The heaven of sea and island tourism, Nha Trang, on the southern central coast of Vietnam, must be positioned as a luxury destination, and combined efforts are needed to to spread this message. It is clear that hotels and resorts are built for leisure and MICE segments (Meeting, Incentive, Cooperation and Exhibition), while island resorts are seeking growth from the first segment, luxury holidaymakers.
MICE Tourism Potential in Nha Trang
Nha Trang, the capital of Khanh Hoa Province, is the political, economic and cultural center of the province. Long stretches of pristine sand and clear waters offer sun-kissed relaxation in this bustling coastal town. Tran Phu Beach, skirting Tran Phu Boulevard, a 7 km-long stretch of golden sand that has a backdrop of forested mountains, bordered by palm trees, colorful flowers and a range of beachside facilities including bars and restaurants.
According to the Nha Trang Tourism Department, until August 2015, the province had 601 accommodation establishments with total 19,936 rooms, including nine five star hotels with 1906 rooms,and fifteen four star hotel and resorts with 2683 rooms – an over supply in the luxury segment. The Tourism Department of Khanh Hoa highlighted that Khanh Hoa aims to attract 4 million tourists and gross VND6.5 trillion (US$309 million) in revenue this year, representing a respective increase of 17% and 30% year-on-year.
The reasons why Nha Trang should be considered as a new luxury MICE destination is because the town itself is booming, and has a lot of potential advantages to become a leading luxury Mice destination in Vietnam. This is combined with a new tourism hub with dozens of activities ranging from day trips, spa indulgence, luxury treatments, to medical tourism and vibrant nightlife. This is also complemented by the province’s close proximity to Saigon, southern Vietnam’s economic hub.
Nha Trang is one of the most beautiful beach destinations in the world and has consistently gained a good reputation among luxury holidaymakers over the last 5 years. The luxury appeal is being improved with world class entertainment establishments, luxury water activities, seaplanes and private jets, and the construction of a brand new marina just north of the city-center.
With 300 days of sunshine each year, this once laid-back beach town is waking up to become Vietnam’s most happening sea-side spot. Nearby areas, Cam Ranh and Van Phong, have opened up to high-end tourism development as well, and this can only benefit Nha Trang. Beauty contests such as Miss Vietnam take place here while Heineken just brought the UEFA Champions League trophy on a tour to the city.
Nha Trang has been the top attraction for both domestic and international travelers for many years, and is also popular with day visitors because of its delightful beach, considered the most beautiful in Vietnam, with deep blue sea and seemingly endless white sand. Together these create the perfect recipe for exploration, luxury adventures, enchantment, relaxation, snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, cruising, mud baths, sky bars, restaurants and memorable new experiences.
Should luxury travelers get tired of the sea, Nha Trang has several unusual sites, including a group of 9th-century Cham towers, Po Nagar, and a stunning, 14-metre tall statue of the Buddha at Long Son Pagoda. Perched in the hills above town, the gleaming white Buddha offers a panoramic view of Nha Trang and the sparkling sea beyond.
If they fancy a round of golf, they can play on the courses at Vinpearl Golf Club and Diamond Bay Resort which is nestled between the mountains and the sea. Diving here is perfect for experienced divers who will enjoy sloping beach dives as well as challenging deep drop-offs and even drift diving. There is also the chance of spotting whale sharks and whales.
Whatever your age, you can still have fun on the rides at the amusement park at Vinpearl Land, go bowling, have a go at ice skating or even watch a show. You can head out of town and spend a few hours in a mud bath. And, of course, everybody loves to shop. Although the designer shops haven’t yet arrived in Nha Trang, there are several artisanal stores to browse for gifts to take back as a memento.
Adventurous foodies can sample Bun Cha Ca, a delicious soup made from the freshest fish – and jellyfish. Gourmet travelers can try abalone, lobsters and Salangane’s Bird’s Nest.
To Improve Nha Trang Tourism
To become a prime MICE destination, Nha Trang still needs more development, and perhaps foreign investment to expand the airport links. Nowadays, there many charter flights from Russia, Ukraine and China coming directly to the town and more domestic flights to the city, but an over-reliance on these is not beneficial to the city in the long term. Shopping malls have begun to spring up, and more are on the way, as well as more authentic experiences with ideas to develop this beautiful bay.
In terms of accommodation, the luxury segment is over supplied, and more hotels and resorts will open in Cam Ranh to compete with Nha Trang in the same province. It is now time for all players to increase the promotion of Nha Trang, and compete with Danang or Phu Quoc to attract travelers.
All players should work under one umbrella such as a competent DMO or the Khanh Hoa Department of Tourism. The industry associations must work effectively, attend more trade fairs and marketing activities abroad, and bring direct airline connections. This access is a crucial issue, and Cam Ranh Airport must be upgraded to support larger aircrafts.
The local authorities must consider tourism as the focus of the local economy, and favorable conditions need to be developed to promote tourism in a sustainable way. The city needs an architectural master plan to safeguard the local charm, colonial mansions and historical influences. Nha Trang should not over-develop the islands and beaches, and should treat all new investors and developers equally to attract them to city, and encourage new services provisions such as luxury cruise operators.
Furthermore, Khanh Hoa needs to urgently build a larger tourism sea port to welcome mega-ships and develop local ocean cruise tourism. Emperor Cruises have had some difficulties in setting up a cruise in Nha Trang Port, and stull uses the same port as the cargo ships.
Local tour operators must understand their luxury clients’ needs and wants. The key thing sophisticated travelers want today is personal service and the opportunity to experience unique encounters with a destination’s culture, history and people – something they can’t Google or find anywhere else. Luxury travelers now look to experiential travel and expect to receive“wow” services, so they can return home with fond memories. The growth of the experiential travel market is well reported. Luxury travelers aren’t merely buying a destination anymore, they are seeking engagement. Terms such as “authentic”, “transformational experiences”, “meaningful connections” and so on, are populating the brochures and websites of travel companies.
Fortunately Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa has a lot of potential for both leisure and MICE travelers. The hardest thing is probably to enhance the experience of travel professionals, and discard old conceptions about Nha Trang, to convince tour operators and MICE planers choose Nha Trang destination for their guests.
Nha Trang Destinations
1. Bao Dai Villas
2. The Oceanography Museum
3. The Stone Church
4. The Po Nagar Cham Towers
5. The Buddha at Long Son Pagoda
6. Vinpearl Amusement Park
7. The Yersin Museum
8. The local Dam market
9. Natural Mud Bath at 100 Egg, Thap Ba or I-Resort.
10. Boat trips to small uninhabited islands in the bay
WHEN TO VISIT
It is a year-round destination, although there can be heavy rain between September and December, with occasional tropical rain.
Top Ten Reasons to Choose Nha Trang
Even in the rainy season, Nha Trang still delights with its sunny and warm weather. The Nha Trang coastline is the perfect place to relax and to enjoy beach time – all year round. Here are the top reasons to choose Nha Trang.
1. Nha Trang is warm and sunny all-year round, with an average temperature of 23 degrees C. Rainfall is less than anywhere else in the country and the area is rarely threatened by storms.
2. Easy access by road, railway, air and cruise ships, convenient daily flight connections from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Danang and Hue. Nha Trang is a gateway to the Central Highland towns of Dalat, Dak Lak, Kon Tum and Phan Thiet/Mui Ne.
3. A huge choice of accommodation from budget hotels to international luxury hotels and resorts
4. Deserted islands, endless white-sand beaches, deep blue sea, indigenous culture, outstanding landscapes and historical monuments.
5. One of the 29 most beautiful bays in the world
6. Local cuisine such as bird nest soup and delicious seafood, such as lobster
7. Friendly and hospitable people
8. Magical sunrises, sunsets and then comes the moon
9. Traditional Cham festivals and dances, fun night life and water sports (kayaking, swimming, and snorkeling, scuba diving, hiking, squid fishing…)
10. Various optional day trips, cruising and excursions