As Vietnam's potential as a leading international destination steadily grows in recent years, beach destinations within driving proximity of the country's major economic centres are fast coming onto developers and travellers' radars alike.
According to Savills Hotels, the development spotlight has increasingly turned away from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Danang, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc, and instead towards emerging destinations such as Ho Tram, Binh Thuan and Hoa Binh.
Located about a 120km drive from HCMC, the two seaside towns of Ho Tram and Long Hai in Ba Ria – Vung Tau, with their improving transportation infrastructure and long sandy beaches, are increasingly gaining attention with domestic travellers seeking "drive-by destinations".
"Historically, drive-by destinations were the main vacation option for most European and American city dwellers until the advent of cheap flights made other, more distant destinations accessible. The pandemic raising air travel concerns around the world has reinvigorated the appeal of drive-by destinations”, said Mauro Gasparotti, director APAC, Savills Hotels.
Numbers attest to this. In 2020, the Ba Ria-Vung Tau province welcomed almost 2.7 million overnight visitors — the same as Danang but over double that of Khanh Hoa. These two seaside towns together supply 2,700 keys from 19 four- and five-star hotels, with a further 7,600 keys incoming from nine projects under construction and five existing properties under expansion.
International operators have expressed an interest to establish brand presence in Ho Tram and Long Hai, as opposed to their earlier "wait and see" approach to better understand destination potential, said Gasparotti. InterContinental Grand Ho Tram, Holiday Inn Resort Ho Tram, Hyatt Regency Ho Tram and the Grand Mercure are already present in the local market.
Despite the Covid-19 effected global slowdown, Ho Tram and Long Hai were two of the very few destinations whose occupancy and room rates remained around pre-pandemic levels, with in 2021, actual upticks in both metrics for the majority of resorts, revealed the hotel consultancy firm.
Beyond the hospitality sector, entertainment players are also keen on a slice of the thriving Vietnamese pie.
Manuel Ferriol, general manager of Melia Ho Tram Beach Resort, pointed out that resort owner Tanzanite International is developing The Hamptons Mall and The Hamptons Pier to "realise a more complete tourism experience including leisure and sports activities, F&B, shopping, and entertainments".
"More innovative initiatives like this, together with increasing numbers of international branded properties, will drive area development until Ho Tram becomes a key international tourism destination," he added.
Also, phase 1 of the Long Thanh International Airport is scheduled to open by 2025, the aviation hub about a 1.5-hour drive from Ho Tram and Long Hai, and 40km from HCMC. The airport is expected to serve not just tourists, but also for business and MICE travellers.