Upbeat about Viet Nam's hospitality market

Many airlines have announced the resumption of flights between China and Viet Nam, which is welcome news for the Vietnamese hospitality sector. The Chinese authorities are gradually easing restrictions after their sustained zero-Covid policy.

Travellers want to engage in positive practices, including wellness activities, contributing to local communities, and minimising their impact on the environment.

Although several major international markets have already reached performances similar to 2019 levels, Southeast Asian markets have only 70% of the 2019 level. Before the pandemic, China was the largest outbound travel market in the world, with as many as 150 million overseas trips in 2019. Much of the recovery in Southeast Asia will depend on the opening of China, and Viet Nam is no exception.

Viet Nam has only achieved 60% of the 2019 occupancy level, and the return of international guests was underwhelming in 11M/2022 with only 2.95 million arrivals.  Without Chinese travellers, South Korea has become Viet Nam’s largest source of international arrivals; in 11M/2022, they accounted for 764,000 arrivals or 26% of international arrivals. There have been strong upticks from new source markets like India with 109,000 arrivals between January and November, with 27,000 arrivals in November alone, increasing 50% compared to the same period in 2019.

Domestic demand is driving tourism recovery in Viet Nam. By November, there were 96.3 million domestic arrivals, exceeding the 85 million in 2019.

Mr Mauro Gasparotti, Director of Savills Hotels Asia Pacific commented: “Operations are still fragmented in Viet Nam and certain locations perform better than others. The recovery of coastal resorts has been slower than anticipated, especially for those that rely on international demand. For example, Nha Trang – Cam Ranh and Da Nang have only achieved 50% of 2019 occupancy levels. Several hotels in Ho Chi Minh City and Ha Noi have recovered well with encouraging results from business travellers, long-term guests, and MICE groups. However, room rates in Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City are still 15% to 20% less than in 2019. Upscale to luxury properties have recovered better. The luxury segment was resilient throughout the pandemic and continues to perform well, with rate recovery outperforming the overall market. With the announced resumption of air services from China, Viet Nam’s coastal destinations that are heavily reliant on international tourists could anticipate stronger demand rebound in 2023.”

Viet Nam has come under increasing attention of international operators keen to establish a brand presence. Established destinations such as Nha Trang, Da Nang, and Phu Quoc as well as emerging destinations like Ho Tram, Quy Nhon, and Phu Yen are attracting international players. In the next three years, an additional of approximately 80 branded hotels and resorts are slated to be operational, adding to the existing base of 132 properties. In 2023, notable openings include Angsana & Dhawa Ho Tram, JW Marriott Cam Ranh, Hyatt Regency Nha Trang, La Festa Phu Quoc Curio Collection by Hilton, and Voco Ma Belle Hotel Da Nang.
Ms Uyen Nguyen, Head of Consultancy at Savills Hotels APAC added: “The cooperation between developers and hotel operators is beneficial if the process is facilitated and executed properly. Brands bring expertise, a good reputation, and access to extensive marketing and distribution networks, but they also have several requirements to be met. As this is usually a long-term partnership, developers should know their business inside out before approaching hotel management companies.” 
New trends are emerging, such as a rise in millennial travellers and travellers with hybrid lifestyles who can work remotely from anywhere in the world, including their favourite holiday destination. Given tourism’s pressure on natural resources and the environment, there is rising demand for sustainable tourism options. Travellers want to engage in positive practices, including wellness activities, contributing to local communities, and minimising their impact on the environment.
“To create a positive long-term outlook, developers must examine industry trends that align with the needs of new travellers and market trends before they build. To be feasible and effective, products must demonstrate a certain understanding of concepts and require key stakeholders and industry leaders to collaborate. The current market uncertainties have slowed or postponed construction and launches, however, it has also given developers the chance to revamp and advance their business more sustainably. We expect an improved recovery after Q1/2023. Overall, we remain optimistic about market potential and look forward to a far more positive year,” Mauro added.