Indian tourists may replace visitors from traditional markets of Vietnam in the coming time, but the Southeast Asian country needs to pour more investments into infrastructure and services in order to attract this market.
A seminar on promoting tourism in the Middle Eastern and Indian tourist markets was organized within the framework of Ho Chi Minh City International Tourism Expo (ITE) 2022 on Friday.
Approximately 169,000 Indian visitors came to Vietnam in 2019, of whom 73 percent stayed in Ho Chi Minh City, Bui Thi Ngoc Hieu, deputy director of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Tourism, said at the event.
In the first seven months of 2022, about 11,700 Indian tourists visited Vietnam.
Between July 15 and 18, Ho Chi Minh City welcomed 460 MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) tourists from India, the largest Indian MICE travel group that Vietnam has ever received.
During the remaining months of this year, more than 60 flights connecting Vietnam and India will be operated every week by airlines such as Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air, and Indigo, Hieu elaborated.
“It is not easy to serve Indian visitors as they are quite careful in choosing products and services,” the official noted.
“If failing to adapt, tourism businesses won’t be able to exploit this market in the long run.”
The tourism sector in Ho Chi Minh City is determined to invest more in infrastructure to serve tourists from India, as they have specific needs related to religious beliefs, according to Hieu.
The city has a number of restaurants and hotels with essential services for Indian tourists and Muslim guests, but they are still small in scale and lack professionalism.
Local accommodation establishments should consider making long-term investment in infrastructure, including restaurants serving Indian and Halal cuisine.
In addition, hotels and airports need to arrange prayer rooms to attract tourists from this market, the tourism official added.
Naresh Chhatola, CEO of Global Journey Holidays India, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that Vietnam is a new destination in Southeast Asia that is attracting the attention of Indian tourists, and that his company is planning more tours to Vietnam instead of Thailand or Singapore.
Vietnam is home to not only beautiful and diverse landscapes but also bustling shopping centers, Chhatola continued, adding that it is easy to find Indian restaurants, which is the most important thing in planning trips for Indian tourists.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, about 20 million Indian tourists traveled abroad each year, whose spending was considered to be the world’s top, according to Madan Mohan Sethi, Consul General of India in Ho Chi Minh City.
Indian travelers tend to seek new cultural, culinary, and shopping experiences.
There has also been a trend of organizing weddings, honeymoon trips, and birthday parties abroad, the consul general said, suggesting that Vietnam further promote such tourism products in the coming time.
Indian visitors chose Vietnam because the country is a safe and new destination with many cultural heritage sites, green spaces, and interesting tours.
Vietnam has many unique tourism products, attractive eco-tourism, friendly people, and good transportation, Sethi stated.
Masan Group draws down $600 mln from the international lenders
The Transaction was arranged by BNP Paribas, Credit Suisse, HSBC, and Standard Chartered Bank. The $600 million transaction is the largest ever 5-year offshore syndicated loan in Vietnam’s private corporate sector, Masan said in a statement.
The loan is priced at 2.9% over the U.S Dollar Secured Overnight Financing Rate, or approximately 6.7% per annum, with a margin over the reference rate improving by 35 basis points compared to the $200 million syndicated loan completed in 2020.
This improvement is considerable given that the recent transaction is for a 5-year loan versus a the 3-year tenor of 2020 loan, which was completed during a lower interest rate environment.
While less expensive, the increase in U.S. Dollar borrowing has introduced greater foreign exchange risk. As per internal policy, the Company will actively monitor and assess the right time for entering into hedging transactions to mitigate market risks while maintaining optimal cost of capital.
Since the establishment of The CrownX (TCX) at the end of 2019, Masan’s integrated consumer-retail platform that consolidates WinCommerce and Masan Consumer Holding, the Company has been able to materially improve TCX’ cash flow generation.
The CrownX’s EBITDA in 2022 is expected to grow by 3x versus 2019 (assuming full year consolidation of both WinCommerce and Masan Consumer Holding) with EBITDA margin improving to 13.4% from 5.5% during the same period, mainly driven by the turnaround of the retail business under Masan’s stewardship. WCM’s EBITDA margin is expected to improve by approximately 11% in 2022 compared to 2019.
Stronger business performance and expansion of retail network profitably have been recognized by other debt providers and international partners.
The recent issuance of VND1,700 billion bonds with tenor 5 years in November 2022, subscribed by well-known multinational investors managing high-AUM bond funds in Vietnam, and
VND2,500 billion in other domestic bonds issued in 2022. The tenor of all of the bonds issued in 2022 are 5 years, longer than the typical 3-year tenor of similar corporate bonds in the market, helping to lengthen the company’s debt schedule.
The Company maintains a sustainable leverage ratio and liquidity position given its ability to attract both international and local investors.
The new debts will not significantly affect the leverage ratio of the company while increasing the liquidity significantly thanks to higher duration and improved operating performance.
Up to November 2022, the company has not only fully repaid all of 2022 debt services of VND6,915 billion but also early repaid VND6,660 billion of debt maturing in 2023.
Number of Japanese restaurants in Vietnam triples in five years
There were nearly 2,500 Japanese restaurants in Vietnam in 2020, more than triple the 770 restaurants in 2015, Matsumoto Nobuyuki, chief representative of the office of the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) in Ho Chi Minh City, said last Friday.
At a ceremony to introduce the Food & Hotel Vietnam 2022, an international fair for the food and hospitality sector, the JETRO chief representative reported that among the 2,500 Japanese restaurants in Vietnam, 1,180 were opened in Ho Chi Minh City.
The metropolis is home to the highest number of Japanese restaurants in Vietnam.
Bosses of half of these restaurants are Japanese, while the remaining were opened by Vietnamese people or in association with Japanese partners.
Nobuyuki added that the statistics were produced before the COVID-19 pandemic.
After the pandemic, the figures may change. However, some restaurants closed but new ones were opened, meeting market demand, he added.
JETRO’s survey also showed that 90 percent of the customers of Japanese restaurants are Vietnamese although these restaurants initially aimed to serve Japanese people living and working in Vietnam.
The mushrooming of Japanese restaurants is seen not only in Vietnam but also other countries in the region.
Japan’s dishes are highly evaluated for their nutritional balance, tastiness, freshness, and high quality.
“Many people choose Japanese restaurants to not only enjoy dishes but also experience the Japanese culture and lifestyle, which are featured in the architecture and space of the restaurants,” Nobuyuki told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
The increase in the number of Japanese restaurants in Vietnam has sent the consumption of Japanese food materials surging. The number of suppliers of Japanese food has risen significantly over the past few years.
Jeffrey Au, head of the International Sales Office Asia at Informa Markets, the organizer of the Food & Hotel Vietnam 2022, said the event, slated to take place in Ho Chi Minh City from December 7 to 9, will gather prestigious suppliers and potential customers to expand the food and beverage market in Vietnam and attract Japanese suppliers to the Southeast Asian country.
Some 300 local and foreign enterprises will display their products, including confectionery, tea, coffee, food, beverages, equipment in hospitality, and packaging materials.
Twenty-two international pavilions from Germany, Italy, Belgium, Norway, Poland, Spain, the U.S., and Canada will be displaying their products.
“Spending on food and beverages currently accounts for the largest proportion of Vietnamese’s monthly expenditures, at 35 percent,” Au said.
“The proportion tends to rise further in the 2022-25 period.
“The growth will open up a thriving future for the food, restaurant, and hotel sector in Vietnam.”
Competition on Vietnam-India air routes fierce
Not only Vietnamese air carriers but also Indian ones operate direct air routes between the two countries, making the competition among them fierce.
Besides direct air services, airlines offer flights connecting to third countries, thus attracting more customers.
Indian passengers on the rise
The number of Indians coming to Vietnam has increased sharply. As a result, many domestic and international air carriers are competing to attract customers.
Indian tourists coming to Vietnam through Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City are on the rise.
According to statistics from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, nearly 82,100 Indian travelers visited Vietnam in the January-October period of this year. The number of Indian visitors surged 51 percent per month on average.
Kieu My, a ground service worker at Tan Son Nhat International Airport, said the number of Indians is increasing as airlines raise the frequency of their flights and the occupancy rate of these flights reaches 75-90 percent.
On the other hand, tours for Vietnamese passengers flying to India are bustling.
There are even charter flights carrying hundreds of Vietnamese passengers to the South Asian country to make a pilgrimage.
Severe competition among airlines
In 2019, Vietnamese air carriers pioneered direct air routes to some tourist destinations in India with a frequency of two to four flights per week. Nowadays, Vietnamese flights have reached most tourist sites in India.
For instance, budget carrier Vietjet opened 14 new air routes to India, carrying tourists from Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, and Bangalore to Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, and Phu Quoc.
National flag carrier Vietnam Airlines also operates flights to India but with a lower frequency than Vietjet.
In addition, Indian airlines, such as Indigo and SpiceJet, have entered the race to carry passengers between the two countries.
Airlines also compete in airfares, which hover around VND5-7 million (US$201-281) per ticket.
The competition in airfares, flight frequency, and flying time on Vietnam-India air routes is fierce. Besides airfare cuts, airlines have launched other services to retain customers.
“When operating flights carrying Indian passengers to Tan Son Nhat International Airport, we find that the demand for connecting flights to other countries is high,” said an executive of an airline.
“If we can connect to air routes to third countries, we can meet passengers’ demand.”
Sharing the view, a Vietjet leader said in addition to existing air routes to India, connecting flights to third countries will help attract customers in the coming time.
The air carrier took a survey and found that Indian passengers are interested in visiting Bali in Indonesia, which is home to Hindu temples, and other destinations featuring Indian culture.
“More than half of Indian passengers coming to Vietnam have a demand to fly to Bali and other destinations in Southeast Asia, Japan, and South Korea.”
Airport ground services need improving
Doan Thi Mai Huong, general director of Southern Airports Services JSC, said to attract Indian tourists, it is a must to meet their demand for catering, entertainment, and relaxation services.
In reality, many Indian restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City are thriving thanks to the high number of customers, only that Indian travelers are careful in spending on services. Therefore, offering products at reasonable prices is necessary.
Southern Airports Services JSC has lounges, restaurants, and retail outlets at airports.
It is preparing more Indian dishes to welcome more tourists from the South Asian country.
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