The central coastal region of Vietnam should enhance its sea tourism potential and natural resources to attract investment and development, said Nguyen Ba Thanh, Head of the Central Coastal Regional Coordination Board cum Head of the Central Internal Affairs Committee, said on March 22.

Thanh told a two-day conference on investment in the central coastal region yesterday that there was great potential for socio-economic development but achievements so far were below expectations.
Thanh said the region needs to work out measures to tackle problems related to infrastructure, incentive policies and mechanisms, and human resources.

Ministry of Planning and Investment Development Strategy Institute director Bui Tat Thang said the most prominent advantage of the region is sea tourism.

Along 1,400km of coastline, nine provinces in the region stretching from Thua Thien-Hue to Binh Thuan boast beautiful beaches, many islands and four world cultural heritage sites.

The region also has abundant natural resources such as titan, iron, aluminum and oil, especially oil with its spearhead projects of Dung Quat and Vung Ro.

To date, six economic zones and 34 industrial zones had been established and connected to the seaport and domestic and international airports.

Statistics showed investments in the region during 2007-12 hit 605 trillion VND (28.8 billion USD) with an average year-on-year growing rate of 11 percent.

As of 2012, the region attracted 709 foreign direct investment projects with a total registered capital of 25.25 billion USD, making up 12.14 percent of the country's registered FDI.

The average gross domestic product growth rate per capita was 12.5 percent in 2006-11, nearly doubling the country's average.

Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Dang Huy Dong told the conference that enhancing the regional link is the optimal solution to turn the region into a single economic space to exploit the competitive advantages of each locality.

He urged the provinces to focus on completing infrastructure in economic and industrial zones, providing support to investors by speeding up land clearances, and attracting investment corresponding to regional competitiveness.

Head of the Consultative Group for Development of the Central Region Tran Du Lich said connectivity between the deep-water port, airport and economic and industrial zones also needs to be enhanced to reduce transport costs.

He said mechanisms and policies should focus on investments in key industries.

At the two-day conference, investors' commitment in the region reached a total value of over 30.8 billion USD. Nine projects in regional provinces and cities received investment licences worth a combined value of nearly 197 million USD. The Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam also signed credit contracts with enterprises totalling about 221 million USD.-VNA