Searching the internet to find a resort for his family’s vacation, Nguyen Tuan Anh was surprised and excited. Compared to the last time they had taken a vacation at a resort, this time he found hundreds of addresses.
“Years ago, it wasn’t that easy for me to find a resort because not that many had been built in Viet Nam,” Anh said. “This time, everything’s changed. I have found 200 addresses on just one website alone.”
“The resort market in Viet Nam is hot,” affirmed Le Xuan Truong, director of the website www.batdongsan.-com.vn, a leading real estate portal.
Five years ago, there were only a few resorts, such as the Mui Ne Domaine, the Nam Hai in central Binh Thuan Province, or the Indochina Riverside Tower in central city of Da Nang, as well as some others in the beach cities of Nha Trang and Vung Tau. These projects were all foreign-invested.
Starting in 2009, however, domestic companies started getting into the act.
A report in September by property consultant CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) Viet Nam said there were 46 launched projects and 14 pipeline projects in Viet Nam. By the third quarter of the year, nearly 12,000 villas and condominium units were supplied to the market.
CBRE Viet Nam general director Marc Townsend described the development wave as a “tsunami”.
“At that moment, inves-tors can get a lot out of investing in this market,” said Truong. “There’s cheap land prices, low investment costs, and a cheap labour force.”
But Truong acknow-ledged that resort projects were mushrooming out of control and were being developed without standards – explaining why the Ministry of Planning and Investment recently ordered local governments to more closely inspect resort projects.
“The number of tourism companies coming to Viet Nam keeps increasing over the years and demand is much higher,” commented Nguyen Thanh Trung, director of Archi Land Viet Nam, one of the local companies investing in the resort market. “Viet Nam still has a lot of potential to develop resorts,” Trung said.
But former Deputy Minister of Natural Res-ources and Environment Dang Hung Vo urged caution.
“It is true that demand of tourists is increasing, but I don’t think tourists are competing with each other to get to resorts to relax. Not that many foreign tourists choose resorts when arriving Viet Nam,” Vo said. “This demand just doesn’t justify such a hot market.”
He also predicted that a lot of registered projects would never get off the ground, claiming that many investors register simply to secure land use rights.
“The overheated devel-opment of the market is virtual. It isn’t real,” said Vo.
“The market develop-ment has brought a lot of benefits to people,” argued real estate analyst Dinh Ngoc Bach. “Resorts bring jobs to local people. They can also help local authorities effectively exploit idle land parcels to further develop the local economy.
“Investors spend their own money so they will surely find the best ways to preserve and use their capital. I think they will ensure resort quality,” Bach added.
Build them and they will come, agreed Trung. “When the supply increases, investors will improve quality to compete. The improved quality will attract more tourists to Viet Nam,” he said.
The go-go atmosphere in the resort market may already be bringing environmental consequences.
Based on six standards, 340 experts polled by the National Geographic Soc-iety’s Centre for Sustain-able Destinations recently named Viet Nam’s Nha Trang and Mui Ne as among the 10 worst beaches in the world, as resorts have swallowed up stretches of previously empty coastline in these southern resort towns, putting the amazing natural beauty and the once-pristine environment at risk.
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