New world-class resort and leisure playground set to firmly establish Da Nang, Hoi An and iconic coastline on the East Sea on global tourism map
Just four years since welcoming direct international flights, central Vietnam is fulfilling its promise as Asia’s hottest new tourist destination.
The upgrading of Da Nang International Airport has heralded a veritable tourism boom for Vietnam’s long-overlooked region.
From 4 million tourists in 2014, Da Nang expects 6.3 million in 2017 – and double-digit growth for the foreseeable future. Da Nang International Airport’s newly opened terminal 2 increases capacity to welcome 12 million tourists a year.
Bangkok Airways has launched four-flights-a-week non-stop service from Suvarnabhumi to Da Nang in May 2016 and has since increased to daily flights. Malaysia-based AirAsia meanwhile has just recently launched daily direct flights from Don Mueang to Danang, with flights commencing June 9, 2017.
Amid this surge in popularity, Da Nang is now on the route radar of 20 international carriers – with direct connections also from eight cities in China, Macau, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Russia, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia and Hong Kong.
While firmly established on the tourism map, central Vietnam is also extending its traditional appeal of beautiful coastlines on the East Sea and three UNESCO World Heritage sites – picturesque Hoi An, the imposing Hue Citadel and ancient ruins of My Son – to new areas.
Recently, the region has also emerged as Vietnam’s golf capital.
Three world-class signature courses have opened along the iconic coastline – Colin Montgomerie’s Montgomerie Links (2009), Greg Norman’s Da Nang Golf Club (2010) and Nick Faldo’s Laguna Lang Co (2013). Last year Luke Donald designed a fourth, Ba Na Hills, in a former French colonial hill station half an hour’s drive inland from Da Nang.
As Asia’s highest-trending golf destination, Da Nang’s emergence on the regional golfing scene was underlined this year with the city hosting Asia-Pacific’s premier golf travel event, the 6th Asia Golf Tourism Convention. Hundreds of attending golf tour operators will have immediately recognised the potential of four world-class courses in close proximity for ideal ‘golf getaways’ in easy reach of enthusiasts from across Asia.
To further enhance appeal, local tourism authorities are also rolling-out stronger marketing initiatives – with 2017 the busiest year yet for colourful events to excite and entertain visitors.
The annual Da Nang International Fireworks Festival, a highlight of the cultural calendar, for the first time extends over two months this year (from April 30 to June 24, 2017), with dazzling pyrotechnic shows by eight international teams.
Auxiliary festivals around the fireworks extravaganza include festivals celebrating Cham culture, sculptures, international cuisine and beer, along with festive street parties.
Historic Hoi An is meanwhile turning on the charm by switching-off its lights to flicker in candlelight for monthly Full Moon Lantern Festivals.
The region is also cashing-in on its appeal for international sporting events. Over 1,330 triathletes from 59 countries recently contested Ironman 70.3 Vietnam. Next up, the 2017 RS: One World Championships is a major international windsurfing event (June10-14); and the Manulife Da Nang International Marathon (August 6) is Vietnam’s first professional marathon certified by the sport’s international confederation.
Da Nang’s growing stature in regional politics was meanwhile boosted by hosting this year’s 2017 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Senior Officials Meeting, attended by 2,000 domestic and international delegates. In November, the city will welcome leaders from around the world for the APEC-High-Level meetings.
Encouragingly, central Vietnam is also a hot new location for Hollywood, attracting the first Hollywood movie filmed in Vietnam. The latest King Kong film Kong: Skull Island, has shot amazing scenes in the giant UNESCO World Heritage listed Phong Nha-Kẻ Bàng caverns, as well as Halong Bay, one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature.
For all its efforts, Da Nang was voted ‘Asia’s Leading Festival and Event Destination’ at last year’s World Travel Awards, the ‘Oscars of the travel industry’.
And as the tourism boom continues, a giant USD 4 billion venture to the south of Hoi An is set to consolidate central Vietnam as Asia’s hottest new resort destination.
Now under development, Asia’s ultimate fully-integrated tourism and leisure destination, named ‘HOIANA’, is scheduled to open the first of several phases in Q1 2019.
Phase 1 will be headlined by a world-class casino; an ultra-luxury resort by Rosewood Hotels and Resorts; a 445-room hotel and 200 condos; and a championship golf course/country club by Robert Trent Jones II.
Recreational facilities will include a beach club and entertainment venue for live shows and events, watersports and dive centre, and a promenade packed with bars and restaurants.
Over the next 10-15 years, HOIANA’s master development plan invites investment in a host of complementary tourism and leisure-related projects envisaged through subsequent development phases.
The ultimate vision is a thriving township of hotels, residential and lifestyle zones, trendy beachfront village, convention centre, hospitality training college, water sports hub, and a giant lagoon for safe year-round swimming.
Clearly, central Vietnam’s transformation into a world-class tourism destination has only just begun.