Tourists rest on a beach in Nha Trang city of Khanh Hoa province (Photo: VNA)

Thua Thien-Hue (VNA) – The central coastal region of Vietnam boasts huge tourism potential and efforts are underway to turn this sector into a driving force of local development.

Plentiful tourism advantages

The region, consisting of 11 provincial-level localities from Quang Tri to Binh Thuan province, has a favourable geographical location adjacent to the Central Highlands, which helps its localities maintain close relations with Laos, northeastern Cambodia, northeastern Thailand and Myanmar. It is also a gateway to international shipping routes along the East-West Economic Corridor.

The central coastal region has a 1,400km-long coastline with a number of beautiful beaches comparable to similar destinations around the world, including Cua Viet, Thuan An, Lang Co, Cua Dai, My Khe, Phuong Mai, Hon Gom, Nha Trang, Cam Ranh, and Mui Ne.

Many attractive bays listed on world rankings can also be found here, such as Lang Co and Nha Trang. Among the numerous lagoons in the region, the Tam Giang-Cau Hai lagoon system, with a total area of over 22,000ha in Thua Thien-Hue province, is one of the largest of its kind in Southeast Asia.

The local eco-tourism potential is as the region is home to 14 nature reserves, the world biosphere reserve of Cu Lao Cham, and nine out of Vietnam’s 16 marine protected areas including the Hon Mun Marine Protected Area in Khanh Hoa province – the first to be established in the country.

Additionally, inshore islands like Con Co, Cu Lao Cham, Ly Son, and Phu Quy boast rich natural, historical and cultural values, making this region even more charming in travellers’ eyes.

Meanwhile, the central coastal region also owns many cultural and historical relic sites and world cultural heritage items named in UNESCO’s lists. Among the UNESCO-recognised heritages, Thua Thien-Hue is home to five (the Complex of Hue Monuments, Nha nhac – Vietnamese court music, the woodblocks of the Nguyen Dynasty, the imperial archives of the Nguyen Dynasty, and royal literature on the Hue royal architecture). The others are Hoi An Ancient Town and My Son Sanctuary in Quang Nam province, and the art of bai choi in some provinces.

Efforts made to fully tap potential

To help develop tourism, localities in the central coastal region have been active in attracting investment to transport infrastructure, including road, waterway, railway, and aviation facilities. 

Three of the six airports in the region are international ports of entry, namely Phu Bai in Thua Thien-Hue province, Da Nang in Da Nang city, and Cam Ranh in Khanh Hoa province. This region now has seven international seaports, while a network of new roads have also been built, connecting the localities with destinations across the nation.

From 2010 to 2016, the region attracted up to 65 trillion VND (2.8 billion USD) to tourism infrastructure, and this figure surpassed 92 trillion VND in 2017. Many big investors like the InterContinental, Banyan Tree Singapore, Sun Group, Vingroup, and FLC have come to develop world-class resorts and entertainment areas.

The capacity of local accommodation facilities increased from 44,794 rooms in 2010 to 104,402 rooms in 2017, almost 49 percent of which are three- to five-star rooms. The majority of these establishments are in localities with strong tourism like Thua Thien-Hue, Da Nang, Quang Nam, Khanh Hoa, and Binh Thuan.

With the huge potential, tourism has always been a key industry of the central coastal region, helping to create special tourism products for Vietnam.

Statistics show that the number of tourists to this region has grown fast over the past few years. Rising by an annual average of 13.3 percent from 13.2 million in 2010 to 34 million in 2017, they account for 39 percent of the total tourist arrivals to the country.

Tourism revenue in the region has increased 25.2 percent annually to about 61.45 trillion VND in 2017. The same year, tourism contributed 8.9 percent to the region’s GDP, compared to the nationwide rate of 7.5 percent.–VNA