Several high-profile tourism and ecotourism projects have transformed some of Vietnam’s ecotourism destinations into highly desirable tourism destinations, with overseas tourists flocking to the country in large numbers to visit those places. As a result, the local impoverished community, which previously struggled to make ends meet, is now thriving and flourishing in their trades as well.
Two decades ago, the Hàn River, which runs through the heart of Đà Nẵng, separated the rich from the poor. The city’s ramshackle neighbourhoods could be seen along the eastern riverbank. In the 1980s and 1990s, there was nothing much to do in Đà Nẵng for the locals.
It is told that even at the turn of the century, the greatest joy for most residents of Đà Nẵng was to cross the bridge over the Hàn River. Weekends were for a picnic for some people who would go to the top of Ba Na Mountain to see the old ruined French villas.
Đà Nẵng was looked upon as a small, sleepy hamlet. But since 2007, a dynamic makeover was initiated with implementing hundreds of infrastructure and urban development projects giving the place a major push in tourism development.
More recently, downtown Đà Nẵng, where tourists were rarely seen as they preferred to stay by the beach, has become a much livelier place. Ba Na Mountain, the beautiful and heavenly place with the replica French village and flower gardens has become a major tourist centre as well.
In 2018, Đà Nẵng welcomed 7.6 million tourist arrivals with more than 50 per cent travelling to Ba Na Hills, mostly by cable car. Since being unveiled to the world last year, the stunning Golden Bridge, which is already considered an iconic sight of Việt Nam, has become a must-see destination for foreign visitors to Đà Nẵng.
Thanks to this spike in tourism that has created jobs for thousands of local people, the whole of Đà Nẵng is now booming. Also, the poor residents have been able to lift their families and communities out of poverty.
Another tourist destination where ecotourism has also been a boon is the city of Hạ Long. The city had changed in recent years with the streets buzzing with foreign tourists in great numbers. The Sun World Halong Park, which has re-energised the area around Bãi Cháy (Cháy beach) is a wonderland of bright lights while a mix of international and domestic tourists can be seen on the streets shopping and feasting on local specialities.
Local food vendors are also thriving and making a higher income than ever. Just a few years ago Hạ Long, which sits on the threshold of the world heritage Hạ Long Bay, was routinely overlooked. It is said that tourists just passed through the city on the way to the bay. Many would not even stay one night in the city. But several high-profile tourism and infrastructure projects have transformed the city, making Hạ Long much more accessible and much more fun.
Now there are theme parks with thrilling rides, such as Typhoon Water Park and Dragon Theme Park, five-star resorts, a newly opened modern airport and a brand new port exclusively for luxury cruisers, and much more.
In 2018, a record 12.2 million foreign visitors came to Quảng Ninh Province, generating VND 24,000 billion in revenue, an increase of 28.1% year on year. It is expected that 2019 will post even higher stats, helping the city to prosper further.
Sa Pa is another tourist destination which is flourishing now, due to growth of the ecotourism industry. Since the Fansipan cable car was put into operation in 2016, many ethnic minorities living around Sa Pa have benefited from the burgeoning tourism industry. According to Mr Nguyen Xuan Chien, the director of Sun World Fansipan Legend, one-third of the employees working in the tourism complex are local ethnic minority people, mainly coming from nearby H’Mong, Day and Thai communities.
Besides the eye-catching cable-car system, Sa Pa is now also home to the five-star Hotel de la Coupole Sapa - MGallery by Sofitel, a stunning creation designed by Bill Bensley under the investment of Sun Group that has set a new benchmark for luxury tourism in Sa Pa.
In 2018, the number of tourists coming to Lao Cai reached 4,246,590, an increase of 79 per cent compared to 2015, when the Fansipan Cable Car and Sun World Fansipan Legend were yet to open.
This indicates that strategic investments in the tourism destination have made a significant contribution to transforming undeveloped landscapes into ecotourism paradises, providing jobs and generating income for local people and thereby improving the quality of life.
Tourism is fast becoming a key economic sector of Vietnam - a country which was devastated by almost 2 decades of war with the USA. Thanks to strategic investors such as Sun Group, steps have been taken to transform Vietnam into one of the world’s most exciting tourism destinations.
The Sun Group was instrumental in directing strategic investment toward Quang Ninh province in the northeast of Vietnam. In 2015, over 7.7 million tourist arrivals visited Quang Ninh, home to Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage, generating VND 6,548 billion in revenue. By the end of 2018, there were 12.2 million visitors with revenue from tourism reaching over VND 24,000 billion.
In 2016, Lao Cai province welcomed 2.7 million tourist arrivals, generating VND 6405 billion in revenue. In 2017, there were 3.5 million visitors, generating VND 9,443 billion in revenue, accounting for 121% of the year’s target, and a growth of 23.7% compared to the previous year.
In 2018, the number of tourists coming to Sapa town alone reached 3.2 million, more than twice the number recorded in 2014 when 1.74 million tourists visited the place.
In recent years, many newly developed tourism projects have boosted the appeal of both established and emerging destinations in Vietnam, drawing more international visitors, and boosting domestic tourism.