Localities in the Mekong Delta region have called for investment in 33 projects in the groups of real estate and tourism, with a total investment of nearly VND7.8 trillion (US$343.2 million), along with 45 other projects related to industry, agriculture, processing and logistics infrastructure development with a total capital of VND150 trillion (US$6.6 billion).
The figures were introduced at the 5th Annual Mekong Delta Investment Forum (MekongInvest) 2017, hosted by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) – Can Tho branch, in collaboration with Mekong Promotion Club (Mekong PC), gathering centres for trade, investment and tourism promotion of 13 Mekong Delta provinces, on October 25.
Under the theme “Calling for infrastructure investment – the Mekong Delta’s tourism development platform,” MekongInvest is a major economic event in the field of trade promotion and investment, conducted annually by VCCI Can Tho and 13 of the Mekong Delta provinces’ centres, said Vo Hung Dung, Director of VCCI Can Tho. Through four organisations in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Can Tho, MekongInvest has demonstrated its important role in promoting trade and investment cooperation.
This year’s event, with the participation of leading experts in finance, real estate and tourism, aims to introduce and analyse the market, in addition to assessing the local infrastructure’s ability to meet tourism development, towards providing multidimensional information for investors and local promotion agencies to open up multilateral opportunities for cooperation in the Mekong Delta.
According to Dung, FDI investment in the Mekong Delta has been improved since 2015 – for the first time FDI has reached US$3.65 billion, accounting for 9% of the nation’s total FDI. Increased investment has changed the face of Can Tho city and several other cities in the region. This change shows the potential vitality of the Mekong Delta in the near future, as it becomes more developed and attractive to foreign investors.
Dung stated that, according to the Mekong Delta tourism development plan approved by the Government, by 2020 the delta is set to receive 34 million visitors with a revenue of VND25 trillion; by 2030, the figures are estimated to stand at 52 million visitors and VND111 trillion in revenue. By 2020, the whole region will have 53,000 rooms and 100,000 rooms by 2030, of which those reaching the 3-5 star standard account for 30% (approx. 30,000 rooms). However, currently the Mekong Delta has only around 60 hotels at 3-5 stars with over 8,000 rooms, mainly in Phu Quoc Island and Can Tho.
Compared with the above planning, accommodation is seriously lacking, as there are only two major entertainment areas, Vinpearl Phu Quoc and Bac Lieu’s Nha Mat Resort, and only one stop at Tien Giang’s Mekong Reststop. The region also lacks a large culinary integrated entertainment centre and large shopping areas to attract tourists. This shows that local tourism development has not been on a par with its potential.
According to economist Nguyen Tri Hieu, there are many “knots” that that have halted the Mekong Delta tourism development, such as incomplete investment in infrastructure for tourism and restrictions on aviation, as well as water transport development, leading to the loss of a large number of tourists. In addition, there is a shortage of services for tourists, such as amusement parks and healthcare services, resulting in low occupancy (about 4% compared to the whole country).
This year’s MekongInvest calls for investment worth over VND150 trillion in local tourism and infrastructure development. (Credit: plo.vn)
Hieu also emphasised the trend of tourism development based on natural resources and local advantages, with river cruises, orchards and homestays but that does not mean that visitors have to stay in unsanitary conditions. Therefore, it is important that local provinces and cities step up their call for investment in infrastructure, restaurants, hotels and amusement parks to better serve tourism development.
From the investors’ point of view, businesses want to receive the support of local governments through clear legal regulations, transparency and openness of local development planning in the future, which will help investors to accurately predict the local economic development and thus manage their cash flow to ensure that they are self-confident in making investment decisions.
Pham The Trieu, Vice Chairman of the Mekong Delta Tourism Association, said that according to statistics from his association, in the past eight years, Mekong Delta tourism has grown annually at more than 10% in all three criteria (number of tourists, occupancy and turnover), especially investment in infrastructure for tourism development which is increasing with strongly developed tourism enterprises.
In 2016, the delta welcomed 28 million visitors, including 2.5 million foreigners with 8.5 million foreign occupancy and a revenue of VND15 trillion. These numbers suggest that the region’s tourism sector must strive even harder to achieve the set level of regional tourism development approved by the Government by the end of 2016.
In addition to investing in infrastructure, Trieu also recommends that the enterprises engaging in tourism in the region should be linked to take advantage of each other, avoid overlapping and creating products causing bore to travellers. At the same time, attention should be paid to improving the quality of human resources for tourism, focusing on customer communication and foreign language skills.
At the conference, localities in the region introduced and called for investment in a range of major tourism projects, such as U Minh Thuong Eco-tourism Area (Kien Giang) with investment capital of VND2.6 trillion, My Duc Commune Tourism Service Complex (Kien Giang) VND2.3 trillion; Ca Mau Cape Tourist Area (Ca Mau) VND1 trillion and Bung Binh Thien Ecological Tourism Area (An Giang) VND600 billion.