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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Vietnam seals place as a hot destination

Vietnam seals place as a hot destination

VIETNAM’S status as Southeast Asia’s fastest growing tourism destination is reflected in new statistics that illustrate Australian visitors are flocking to the country like never before.

Perhaps due to their own country’s relative isolation, Aussies have cultivated a reputation for being voracious travellers. Traditionally, however, they have looked to Indonesia — particularly Bali — Fiji and Thailand when making plans to explore the Asia-Pacific region.

While these locations retain a potent pull, data from some of Vietnam’s top hotels, as well as Vietnam’s National Administration of Tourism, show that a growing contingent are choosing to spend their vacation in Indochina’s most populated nation.

Ho Chi Minh City’s iconic Caravelle Hotel has seen a twofold increase in visitors from Australia this year, while the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, the Vietnamese capital’s most prestigious address, has reported a 48 percent rise over the past 12 months.

With six flights a day to Ho Chi Minh city from Phnom Penh and two to Hanoi, Vietnam is arguably the easiest weekend escape from Cambodia, catering to a variety of customers from business visitors to sun-seekers.

On the fledgling central coast, the award-winning Nam Hai resort has seen a significant upsurge in visitors from Down Under, too. The property, recently voted among Asia’s 20 best resorts by readers of Condé Nast Traveller, reported a 69 percent increase in Australian occupants in the first eight months of the year.

The phenomena is reinforced by Vietnam’s tourism administration, which has reported a 128 percent rise in Australian visitor numbers in 2010 — the greatest percentage increase of inbound arrivals from non-Asian countries.

“Australia escaped the worst of the global downturn and its dollar is relatively robust, which means Aussies are traveling as much as they have ever done,” says Kai Speth, general manager of the Metropole Hanoi.

“What’s more, Australia has been one of our priority markets in recent years. We have representation at all the big travel trade shows there and I think it’s fair to say that our efforts in marketing the hotel are really starting to reap rewards.”

John Gardner, the Caravelle’s general manager, concurs with the view that an increased focus on the Australian market is paying dividends. He also believes Vietnam is finally beginning to rival traditional regional heavyweights such as Thailand and Indonesia in the eyes of holiday makers.

“Thailand is beginning to recover after the recent turmoil,” Gardner says. “But throughout that stumble, and troubles elsewhere, Vietnam has sharpened its profile as the region’s most safe and secure destination. Safety and security is far more top of mind for travelers today than it was 10 long years ago.”

Gardner also points to other factors that are boosting the country’s reputation — its solidifying infrastructure and its value for money.

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