Emerging Luxury Travel Industry in Vietnam by Vietnam First Luxury Travel and Tour Operator

High-end travelers still have money and time, they can travel even during the financial crisis.

More cruise ships dock to major sea ports of Vietnam and bring high-end travelers to the country, these luxury cruises are excellent examples of lavish travel, a growing part of the tourism sector in recent years in Vietnam, but just a portion of the millions of international tourists coming to Vietnam every year.
According to Pham Ha, chief executive and founder of Luxury Travel Ltd, Vietnam’s first luxury tour and travel operator and most successful luxury travel brand in the country, the company served more than 5,000 high-end travelers to Vietnam among 10,000 travelers in Indochina in 2012.
Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, French Ministers, Oman Royal Family and Ministers of Oman and ambassadors of many countries were among the VIP guests of the company.
As Pham revealed, cost of an average lavish tour ranges from US$2,500 to US$3,500 per person for a seven-day tour. Many of these tours are priced at over US$1,000/day/visitor.
In 2013 Luxury Travel expects a 30% growth in terms of turnover. “High-end travelers still have money and time, they can travel even during the financial crisis,” said Pham.
The services are often linked with MICE tourism which involves the organization of Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing and Exhibitions, serving customers who come to Vietnam for business but would like to enlist their time for some exquisite travel.
As the MICE “tigers” of Southeast Asia such as Singapore or Malaysia have exposed thoroughly their venue capacity and Indochinese countries of Laos and Cambodia still embrace their potentials, Vietnam is becoming the MICE hub of Asia for both regional and global MICE visitors.
In late December 2012, Luxury Travel also announced its top five high-end travel trends in the Vietnam tourism industry in 2013 including multi-generational family travel, wellness and spa, active vacations, river cruises and customized travel.
In recent years Vietnam has begun to catch up wellness and spa innovation, embracing spa culture with a wide selection of resorts and day spas that are equal to any in the world. Many world class golf courses were recently opened, making Vietnam a golf destination of the world.
According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), although experiencing a turbulent year with economic difficulties, the Vietnamese tourism industry still achieved positive results with 6.8 million international arrivals in 2012, an increase of nearly 14% compared to 2011.
In terms of travel purposes, in 2012, 14% more visitors came to Vietnam for tourism and leisure and 16% more visited Vietnam for business, compared to 2011.
Vietnam has been raved for bearing the beauty of a miscellaneous destination with many UNESCO-recognized cultural and natural heritage sites.
In early December 2012, the travel and tourism professional association United States Tour Operators Association voted Vietnam the 2nd most popular emerging destination in 2013, topped by Myanmar and followed by India and Peru.
Pham Ha is also a travel guru, tourism speaker, writer, consultant and a leading designer of luxury tourism industry training programs, he suggested that VNAT should create a luxury travel department, encourage tour operators to create high end, niche products for luxury travelers or forecast tourism trends to guide them to deliver the right products for the tastes and expectations of the sophisticated travelers.
Pham also called for more travel show participation and for four, five-star hotels to be rated correctly by international standards and norms.
For 2013, the director of Luxury travel projected: “We are seeing interests in the An Lam Ninh Van Bay villas near Nha Trang, Hyatt Regency Da Nang, Intercontinental Da Nang Resort, Fusion Maia Resort Hoi An, Ana Mandara Hue, Emeralda Ninh Binh.”
“The next upcoming destination in Vietnam is the archipelago of Con Dao where Six Senses has developed a resort. It is a 45 minute flight from HCMC and offers the most beautiful islands and settings in Vietnam,” said Pham.
Lavish tourism may account for a small market share but is a profitable sector. Nowadays, luxury tourism is all about experiences, privacy, intimacy and uniqueness. High-end travelers expect to “enjoy a program that gets them off the tourist trail and into the real Vietnam.”
Many have moved towards a quieter understated luxury and plan their trips with a focus on authenticity and experiential travel, focused on enriching once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
For travel experts, it is essentially about creating a package that is personal as well as authentic and memorable. With so many new experiences on offer, it’s the stories travellers can tell afterwards that confer status.