Movenpick optimistic about Vietnam’s tourism market
Andrew Langdon, senior vice president for Asia of Movenpick Hotels & Resorts - PHOTO: MOVENPICK HOTELS & RESORTS
Movenpick Hotels & Resorts has announced to open at least 30 hotels and resorts in Asia by 2020, seven of them in Vietnam. This indicates the company’s interest in the tourism market of Vietnam.
Following is an interview with Andrew Langdon, senior vice president for Asia of Movenpick Hotels & Resorts, on the sidelines of the Hospitality Investment Conference Vietnam 2016 organized in HCMC on July 12-13.
Can you share your opinion about potential of the Vietnamese tourism market in the near future?
- Andrew Langdon: I’m quite optimistic. In 1998, when I moved to Thailand for work, the number of international tourist arrivals in Thailand was only six million per year. But last year Thailand welcomed as many as 29.9 million international visitors. The tourism development path of Vietnam in the near future will be pretty much the same. Last year, 7.9 million foreign tourists came to Vietnam and I do hope that the number will hit 30 million in the next 15 years. But to be cautious, I will put the figure at 30 million after 20 years. As for the domestic tourism market, there is also much potential as Vietnam has a large population, nearly 100 million people, and the living standards are being improved.
As senior vice president for Asia and with 25 years’ experience in property and hospitality, can you compare Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries in terms of advantages and disadvantages?
- The advantages of Vietnam are its beautiful scenery, interesting history, culture and cuisine, and the country is a new destination for a lot of tourists.
However, several challenges are confronting Vietnam’s tourism. First of all, entry into Vietnam is not as easy as in other regional countries. If Vietnam makes it easier for international tourists to enter, more will come. Last July, Vietnam unilaterally waived visa requirements for tourists from Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Spain. For one year, the number of tourists to Vietnam from these countries has picked up 21%.
Second, there are few direct flights to popular tourist destinations. The number of travelers to Danang has surged in the past five years thanks to direct flights from China, Thailand, South Korea, Hong Kong and Macau. Vietnam should have more direct flights to places of interest like Phu Quoc and Cam Ranh.
Third, Vietnam’s tourism promotion is still limited. In order to lure more tourists, the country must actively tell interesting stories about its beauty, history and culture. As far as I know, Vietnam spent a mere US$1.5 million introducing itself to the world last year while Thailand spent US$85 million and Singapore US$100 million.
Another challenge is traffic infrastructure, safety, and quality of human resources and services. Thailand, Malaysia and other countries have encountered such problems. But I believe Vietnam can overcome them with the cooperation of businesses like Movenpick and state management agencies.
What do you think about the investment environment of Vietnam and prospects of the hospitality industry?
- The hospitality industry in Vietnam boomed last year. We saw the launch of a number of real estate and hotel projects as well as the mergers and acquisitions of many hotels and resorts like Nam Hai in Hoi An, Six Senses in Con Dao and InterContinential in HCMC. These have made property developers more optimistic about the market. In the coming years, Vietnam’s economy and tourism market are forecast to maintain growth momentum, more people will join the middle class, and the outlook in the hospitality industry will be good.
Are business operations of Movenpick Hanoi Hotel meeting expectations?
- The market in Hanoi is quite competitive now with a big number of new hotels being put into service. But we are still able to maintain good profitability and achieve business targets.
What does your company expect from Movenpick Cam Ranh Resort whose villas will be offered for sale in HCMC on July 16?
- Movenpick Cam Ranh Resort comprises 121 villas of between 400 and 650 square meters each overlooking the 500-meter-long beach, 250 hotel rooms, 132 apartments, water park, sport clubs, area for team building activities and Swiss-style village.
On May 28, we and our partner Eurowindow notched up certain success when selling apartments and villas of Movenpick Cam Ranh Resort in Hanoi as we generated over US$14 million within three hours. I expect the sale in HCMC on July 16 will be more successful.
Movenpick Hotels & Resorts plans to open 30 hotels in Asia from now towards 2020 and increase its asset portfolio in Vietnam in the next three years. Will Movenpick make a comeback to HCMC after leaving in 2014?
- Movenpick Hotels & Resorts entered Vietnam in 2006 and is one of the earliest hotel management companies to set foot in Vietnam. Our goal is to become a leading hotel management company in Vietnam by 2020. Besides a hotel in Hanoi and a resort in Cam Ranh, we are working on projects on Phu Quoc Island and in Quy Nhon City. Our Phu Quoc project will have 380 guest rooms, 75 villas and 150 apartments while in Quy Nhon, we will develop a 200-room hotel. Our near-future plan is to open hotels in HCMC and Danang as well as high-end apartment buildings in HCMC and Hanoi. We will then expand to other localities with high tourism potential like Ha Long, Sa Pa, Phan Thiet and Quang Binh. And by 2020, Movenpick will operate at least seven hotels and resorts in Vietnam.
Reported by Chinh Phong