Positive signals for recovery of tourism

08:00 | 14/09/2020
Amid the government’s strong actions to help the tourism sector recover from COVID-19, Hoiana CEO Steve Wolstenholme talked with VIR’s Nhat Ha about solutions to minimise obstacles as the country’s industry faces a new normal.
positive signals for recovery of tourism
Hoiana CEO Steve Wolstenholme

How are Hoiana’s operations different before and during the ongoing pandemic, and what is the timeline for completion of the property?

COVID-19 has presented unprecedented challenges, and tourism has been one of the industries that got hit the hardest by the pandemic. We all have seen tourism revenues fall sharply in the first half of the year.

As we continue to navigate this, everyone must evolve and adapt to the new normal. Despite the situation, we pushed to open in June. We believe Hoiana’s opening has sent a positive signal to the industry and instilled confidence in other investors and developers to continue working in Vietnam. But the pandemic has certainly changed our planning and especially the way we conduct our business. We decided to introduce our facilities in phases in response to the decline in tourist arrivals into central Vietnam. We have also changed our sales and marketing strategy to focus solely on the domestic market.

Hoiana has also been enhancing its health and safety protocols, following the guidance of the World Health Organization and local governments.

Our Standard Operating Procedures now include frequent deep cleaning of all public areas, employees wearing masks during service, and setting up hand sanitiser stations and temperature checks at all employee and guest entrances.

Most importantly, we put much effort into ensuring employee welfare and are proud to say that until now nobody has been made redundant as a result of the pandemic.

How can the industry overcome the current scenario, and which policies should the government implement to help businesses?

In the immediate future, domestic travel is key. Both Danang and Quang Nam are taking actions to help the tourism sector recover, with a focus on promoting the region as an attractive destination.

Eventually, we will have to reactivate inbound travel. By focusing on the health and wellbeing of its citizens as a key priority, Vietnam is doing a fantastic job in proving that it is one of the safest destinations in Asia-Pacific. It is now essential to develop an action plan to take advantage of this positive exposure to drive post-pandemic tourism recovery and promote Vietnam as a safe haven.

In the meeting with the Ministry of Tourism and the Tourism Advisory Board, Hoiana has proposed a comprehensive plan to reopen borders to foreign tourists, including forming travel bubbles and a travel corridor with other countries.

Why will the integrated resort model be a success in Vietnam?

Travellers are looking for more wholesome experience for their trips: culture and entertainment, embracing natural beauty, and being able to indulge in local hospitality. The appeal of integrated resorts is the ability to provide variable experiences in one property; hence it is attractive to all guest segments – families of all ages, business travellers, couples, and entertainment seekers.

At Hoiana we are building a hub of hospitality and experiences that is very much aligned with the characters the market desires. For domestic guests, Hoiana offers a multitude of luxurious beachfront accommodations, a wide array of food and beverage (F&B) options, and a world-class golf course.

Visitors from our primary foreign markets want to experience something unique. We’ve undertaken extensive research to ensure we are providing what they want to see: an authentic Vietnamese experience with a touch of Hoiana’s unique twist. Furthermore, what sets Hoiana apart is our location’s centuries-old tradition, blessed with pristine coastline and landscapes, and nurtured with genuine Vietnamese hospitality. We are confident that Hoiana will bring unforgettable experiences to all guests.

As part of a $4-billion development located in Quang Nam province, Hoiana aims to create one of Asia’s finest integrated resorts. What is available now and what is planned for the near future?

We commenced Hoiana’s preview operation period from June 28. Guests visiting Hoiana can play at Vietnam’s first Robert Trent Jones Jr-designed Hoiana Shores Golf Club and stay in the first of four luxurious hotels managed by Rosewood Hotel Group – the Hoiana Hotel & Suites.

They can also enjoy themselves at Hoiana Suncity, the resort’s entertainment complex, consisting of Vietnam’s biggest gaming facility, a wide variety of F&B outlets offering irresistible Asian cuisines, and bars and lounges that showcase not only nightlife excitement but also various cultural and entertainment shows.

Shoppers can meanwhile indulge themselves at Hoiana Promenade, which houses prestigious retail brands from fashion and apparel to accessories.

Prior to the Grand Opening in early 2021, we will introduce two additional luxurious hotels, KHOS Hoiana and New World Hoiana Hotel, along with more unique dining experiences across the property. Other exquisite entertainment options and exciting events will also be unveiled soon.

What are your plans to promote Hoiana and expand the project?

We are very fortunate to work with prestigious partners such as Suncity and Rosewood, which already have a strong loyalty base.

Furthermore, being Vietnam’s first truly integrated resort has a certain prestige and anticipation around our opening, and our team is putting together a comprehensive launch plan to position and market the resort.

Along with the resort operation, Hoiana integrates with the local community to promote socioeconomic development. We work with local educators, orphanages, children’s groups, and other institutions to enrich the lives of people in Quang Nam.

To create opportunities for residents to develop professional skills in tourism, our Quang Nam-Hoiana Tourism Vocational Training Center provides training such as golf course maintenance and operations, housekeeping, F&B services, and language skills. Graduates are well-prepared to join the international workforce and we also work with local educators and provide on-site training to ensure as many positions as possible are filled by local staff.

What the stars mean:

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