Cruise tourism – ‘gold mine’ for Vietnam to tap into

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Hanoi, April 12 (VNA) - Vietnam witnessed an significant increase in the number of international tourist arrivals by sea in the first quarter of 2023, showing that cruise tourism has great potential for further development in the Southeast Asian nation.

According to the General Statistics Office, in March, international arrivals to Vietnam by sea rose more than 2.8 times, as compared to the previous month. In the first three months of the year, Vietnam welcomed 33,700 cruise passengers, up 936.3 times higher year on year.

Since the beginning of 2023, many cruise ships carried thousands of international tourists to localities across Vietnam, including Nha Trang, Da Nang, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Ho Chi Minh City, and Quang Ninh.

Recently, the high-end Italian-flagged cruise ship MSC Poesia, with 2,145 European passengers onboard, arrived in Nha Trang City on April 1. The vessel departed from Hong Kong (China) and then sailed to Da Nang, Nha Trang, and Ho Chi Minh City.

Khanh Hoa province has welcomed five cruise vessels since the beginning of this year. The province is expected to greet two more cruise ships this April and about 20 between now to the year-end.

In late February, Spectrum of the Seas, one of the world's top ten most luxurious cruise ships, docked at Tan Cang-Cai Mep port in Tan Phuoc ward, Phu My town, Ba Ria-Vung Tau province.

Besides 1,577 crewmembers and serving personnel, the ship carried more than 3,800 foreign tourists, most of them from the US, the UK, Australia, and Singapore. This was the 7th international cruise ship and the one that carried the largest number of tourists to make landfall in Ba Ria-Vung Tau so far this year.

A representative of Saigontourist Company reported that from March 1 to 8, the company provided services for four international ships, carrying more than 4,200 cruise passengers to Vietnam.

This year, the world-class Royal Caribbean Cruises has added more destinations in Vietnam to the Spectrum of the Seas’ itinerary. The cruise will allow passengers to visit Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue and Da Nang on different itineraries. Hue and Da Nang are newly-added destinations in the Tokyo - Singapore itinerary, which will depart in September and October 2023.

According to Vietnam's tourism development strategy in 2020, with a vision to 2030, the country is giving priority to developing sea and island tourism. Vietnam has a favourable geographical position on the regional maritime route. The country also boasts a coastline of 3,260km, with more than 4,000 islands and many famous scenic spots, as well as time-honoured historical and cultural sites.

The famous beach resorts in Vietnam such as those in Ha Long - Cat Ba, Son Tra - Hoi An, Nha Trang - Cam Ranh, Phan Thiet - Mui Ne, and Phu Quoc, can compete against other coastal resorts in the region and Asia in luring cruise passengers.

Famous beach resorts in Vietnam such as those in Ha Long - Cat Ba, Son Tra - Hoi An, Nha Trang - Cam Ranh, Phan Thiet - Mui Ne, and Phu Quoc, can compete against other coastal resorts in the region and Asia in luring cruise passengers.

A survey by the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) showed that cruise tourism generates 40% higher revenue than travel by air or by road. This is also the reason why cruise tourism is favoured and fully exploited by developed countries around the world. UNWTO forecasts that cruise tourism will better recover in 2023 when the COVID-19 pandemic is placed under control.

Although Vietnam has many advantages to developing cruise tourism, some difficulties remain to hinder the development of this type of tourism, according to participants at a seminar on developing Vietnam's sea and island tourism which was jointly held by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, and the Vietnam Tourism Association in December 2022.

Experts pointed out the lack of ports to host cruise ships, experienced human resources to serve high-paying tourists, and communication activities to promote cruise tourism.

Therefore, they called on coastal localities to develop policies to encourage businesses to invest in seaport infrastructure and design new tourist products to better serve cruise passengers. They also stressed the importance of a development strategy and master plan for developing sea and island tourism./.