Heir to the legacy of Vietnam’s king of ships: Sea tourism and expectations for a ‘made in Vietnam’ fleet.

The marine tourism sector, which is a top priority of the country’s sea economy Master Plan 2030-45, has been struggling to attract investment in cruise harbours and coastal infrastructure to lure globally branded cruise fleets connected with worldwide destinations.
Cruise services are one of the key products in building marine tourism as a core part of the ‘blue sea economy’ plan.

“The number of cruise tourists accounts for only 2-3% of the total number of international visitors to Vietnam. With a long coast and beautiful beaches, Vietnam has become a destination for international cruise vesels. Almost all cruises have to dock at cargo ports in Vietnam, while international standards for entertainment and free-duty shops at arrival ports have yet to be developed,” Pham
Ha President and CEO Lux Cruises Group said.

The number of cruise travelers to Vietnam are increasing, and cruise ships to the country are getting bigger, carrying up to 4,500-4,800 passengers. The time of stay at Vietnamese ports is also longer, and they stop at more ports instead of only 1-2 ports as before. However, the number of cruise tourists accounts for only 2-3% of the total number of international travellers to Vietnam.

Pham Ha said sea tourism is still dealing with barriers that have blocked business and kept investors at bays such as Nha Trang, Lan Ha, Ha Long Bay, Phu Quoc Islands for decades. There are bottlenecks for tourism businesses and investors were the legal framework, destination management and poorly linked tour services among the 28 coastal provinces. Cruise tourism in Vietnam has not been promoted properly.

Although Vietnam has 3,000km of coastline, 125 world- class beautiful beaches, 3000 islands, and dozens of coastal cities, it still does not have a cruise ship fleet. Vietnam must have cruise ships to carry passengers from Vietnam to other countries. Pham Ha, emphasized that it is necessary to attract investors to invest in cruise ships and yachts with Vietnamese nationality that run along the coast.

“Adventurous beach sports, diving, kayaking, fishing, night art performances and entertainment should be included for local cruise fleets, while preferential policies are needed for investors in infrastructure, ship building and cruise ports, Ha added.

Lux Cruises Group is positioning as Vietnam’s most luxurious cruise line.

Blessed with geographical location, climate, and natural resources, Vietnam has shown plenty of potential for developing tourism. With more than 3,000 km of coastline covering green forests and majestic landscapes, this nation also boasts about 125 beaches and ranks in the top 12 countries for the most beautiful bays in the world. 70% activities come from maritime tourism.

Promoting island and sea tourism development is what Vietnam Tourism Board has mainly focused on. “We used the seven letters of the country’s name: V – Varied landscape, I – Indigenous culture, E – Exotic beaches, T – Timeless charm, N – Natural heritage sites, A – Ancient cities, M – Memories to cherish forever”. Concludes Pham Ha

Therefore, LUX CRUISES would like to be a part of this mission to dedicate to inspiring the beauty of Vietnam to many more international partners, customers, and friends. Lux Cruises, a member of Lux Group, was founded in 2004 operating chiefly in ultra-luxury and luxury cruise and travel services. The Lux Cruises Group aims to build made-in-Vietnam’s most luxurious cruises fleet serving different bays and islands along the coastline of Vietnam.

Inspired by the spirit and the ambition of Vietnamese entrepreneur Bach Thai Buoi, who was very famous for his patriotism and business success in the early 20th century, Pham Ha built up his brand Heritage Cruises in 2019. This luxury cruise line has now two brands: Emperor Cruises and Heritage Cruises. Each cruise ship is artwork with stunning design and delightful services delivered by their enthusiastic award-winning team since 2014.

Lux Cruises to launch brand new super yacht,
President Cruises and Yacht in 2025 for expedition along the coast of Vietnam

President Cruises’s sleek design, soothing and neutral hues, and contemporary layout were thoughtfully crafted to appeal to a clientele who is seeking relaxation, serenity, and the service they’ve come to expect from the brand.

First and foremost, guests are more than pleased with the ample amount of space both in their suites (purposely not referred to as cabins) as well as across the expansive and numerous common areas of this 190-meter vessel.

The company promiss more square footage per passenger and with just 150 suites and a passenger count of more than 300 for over night and 1000 víitors for a day, guests on board the first sailing were happily surprised with the room to stretch out.

The first made-in-Vietnam mega yacht is stunning, truly a floating work of art, featuring spacious suites that all offer balconies and high ceilings, 5 dining venues, various inviting common areas, multiple pools (including an infinity one), a handful of whirlpools, a spa, fitness center, cigar lounge, and watersports marina. www.lux-cruises.com

Investment, better legal framework needed for cruise growth

December 26, 2022 By Blog Comments Off

A cruise docks at Đà Nẵng’s Tiên Sa Port on a tour in Việt Nam. The country’s cruise industry has not yet invested enough to make it a top destination in Asia and the world. VNS Photo Công Thành

ĐÀ NẴNG – The marine tourism sector, which is a top priority of the country’s sea economy Master Plan 2030-45, has been struggling to attract investment in cruise harbours and coastal infrastructure to lure globally branded cruise fleets connected with worldwide destinations.
Chairman of the Việt Nam Tourism Association Vũ Thế Bình said cruise services are one of the key products in building marine tourism as a core part of the ‘blue sea economy’ plan.

Bình said sea tourism is still dealing with barriers that have blocked business and kept investors at bay for decades.

He said bottlenecks for tourism businesses and investors were the legal framework, destination management and poorly linked tour services among the 28 coastal provinces.

Vũ Duy Vũ, a senior expert of cruise service from Sài Gòn Tourist agency, said less complicated visa arrival procedures, upgrading ports and a highway system connecting ports and destinations are necessary for the cruise industry to thrive.

“Almost all cruises have to dock at cargo ports in Việt Nam, while international standards for entertainment and free-duty shops at arrival ports have yet to be developed,” Vũ said.

“Representative offices of the country’s tourism industry are not available at key cruise markets such as the US, Australia and EU,” he said.

A tourist enjoys kayaking in Hạ Long Bay during a cruise tour in Quảng Ninh. More services and entertainment are needed for cruise growth in Việt Nam. Photo courtesy of Phạm Hà

Phạm Hà, CEO of Lux Group, said the port system from Hải Phòng to HCM City was poor quality and could not handle giant luxury or middle class cruise ships.

Hà said his own ship in Hạ Long Bay needs permissions from 18 local authorities to offer on-board night-stay service, while the group’s Emperor Cruise in Nha Trang had to get an international travel certificate to host dinner on board as ordered by the local tourism authority.

He explained that tourists on his cruise had to transship to visit Lan Hạ Bay in neighbouring Hải Phòng after finishing a tour in Bái Tử Long in Hạ Long Bay of Quảng Ninh province.

Hà said a one-stop procedure and GPS control given by port authorities of Quảng Ninh and Hải Phòng can help cruises exchange tour service at both bays.

Vũ Văn Đảo, director of Vũng Tàu Marina, a ship building company, said his company had to close in 2020 due to regulations on ship management and registration.

He said his 20-seat ships using Copolymer Polypropylene Polystone (PPC) from Europe were not registered for operation as no regulations on new materials for ship building existed.

Đảo said his new double-hull sailing boat design was used for hosting sailing festivals, but was refused by the local industrial park management board.

Flexible and quick responses are needed from local administrations to support the tourism business, he said.

Phạm Ngọc Thủy, director of Quảng Ninh provincial department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said every local destination should build their own unique product that would help keep cruise visitors in Việt Nam longer.

A sailing race is organised in Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu. The service is rarely offered in coastal provinces and cities serving cruises in Việt Nam. Photo courtesy of Vũng Tàu Marina

Quảng Ninh is a rare locality investing in ports for cruise ships, while Đà Nẵng has begun changing dual-use Tiên Sa Port for cruises only.

Thủy said local ports could be built to link cruise tour services with ports in Singapore and East Asia or Southeast Asia for wider options in different countries and destinations.

Adventurous beach sports, diving, kayaking, fishing, night art performances and entertainment should be included for local cruise fleets, while preferential policies are needed for investors in infrastructure, ship building and cruise ports, Hà added. — VNS

Cong Thanh – Vietnamnews.vn

Time of my life

February 9, 2022 By Uncategorized Comments Off

Pham Ha Founder and CEO of Lux Group (www.luxgroup.vn) reminisces about the Tet holidays, the most important festival in the Vietnamese calendar, and their importance.
Memories of past Tet holidays always come flooding back as the old Lunar Year comes to an end.

Tet during my childhood years meant eating well. The Lunar New Year in Vietnam is a time for family, both living and deceased, as people also invite their ancestors to Tet feasts. Activities have changed over time, but certain traditions are still followed by every Vietnamese family. It’s not only an occasion to decorate the home and shop for special goods, but also a chance for family members to reunite and pay their respects to those who came before them. Time flies but memories remain.

Tet Market

No matter who you have become, the first 21 years of your life are the most memorable. Life for me began in the countryside, in the heart of the Red River Delta, cradled in village culture and ancestral traditions. Today, in my rich collection of artworks from the famous artist Pham Luc, there is one beautiful piece depicting a Tet market that still holds deep meaning for me.

It represents one of my fondest memories as a child during Tet. The artwork is signed 1975, or ‘At Mao’ (Year of the Cat), the same year I was born. Vietnam’s north and south had just been reunified as brush met canvas, and while I didn’t witness the war I saw its consequences, which lasted until the US lifted its embargo in 1990.

Pham Luc’s Tet piece depicts the beauty of a busy rural market on the last day of Tet preparations in the north of Vietnam. People are wearing their best clothes or the traditional áo dài. Some clearly came from afar by bicycle. The happiness on their faces expresses their excitement at buying a peach blossom branch or cumquat tree to take home for Tet. The only young lady in the painting symbolizes spring, youth, and feminine beauty, while the young boy holding on to her seems to incessantly seek attention.

I can envision myself as this playful child, excited to be at the Tet market. I would know my parents were planning to buy me new clothes, that food would be abundant at family gatherings, especially because of my uncle’s return from Hanoi, and that I would also receive some lucky money.

In Vietnamese culture and life, the marketplace is also a meeting place, not simply a trading point. Communities chose to set up markets to connect, look for friends or life partners, or simply to have fun. There is always a lot of excitement and joy associated with the marketplace environment and Tet is an excellent time to embrace it.

As part of Tet preparations, everyone is in a rush to get a haircut, buy new clothes, visit friends, and stock up on traditional Tet delicacies. Businesses hang festive red banners that read ‘Chuc Mung Nam Moi’ or ‘Cung Chuc Tan Xuan’ (Happy New Year) and the market is adorned with colored lights.

Stalls spring up all over the village selling mứt (candied fruit and jam), traditional cakes, and fresh fruit and flowers. People bring flowering peach trees into their homes, which symbolize life and good fortune and celebrate the coming of spring.

Best Bánh Chưng ever

I remember I was about ten when my parents let me wrap a bánh chưng (square glutinous rice cake) in coconut palm leaves for the first time. I spent the whole night cooking with them; an experience I’ll cherish forever.

Preparing bánh chưng often involves the entire family. It’s a time-consuming process so requires the joint efforts of several people. The main ingredients are glutinous rice, pork, and green beans, wrapped square in broad-blade leaves that give the rice a green color after boiling. My grandfather, parents, and three brothers and sisters used to sit around the pot chatting while the bánh chưng cooked. We stayed awake until they were ready, which can take about 12 hours, eager to have a bite.

Bánh chưng has become the most famous traditional Vietnamese food when welcoming guests during the Tet holiday. They will often ask how many bánh chưng we cooked as a measure not only of how big this year’s celebrations will be, but also of the family’s financial situation.

Worshipping Ancestors and Tet Eve

Most Vietnamese people believe that the spirits of their ancestors live alongside all who are living. Homes, businesses and offices all have a shrine dedicated to the deceased that is carefully tended throughout the year, with food being offered, incense lit, and special paper offerings burnt.

At Tet, this custom becomes even more important, as the family prepares to invite their ancestors to eat with them. Before the big holiday, family tombs are visited, weeds are cleared away, and any needed repairs done.

On the first day of Tet, special offerings of elaborately decorated paper, fruit, food, and wine are made to the ancestors and left on the altar until the fourth day. On special occasions like death anniversaries or Tet, special rituals are performed to communicate with the dearly departed.

The ‘five-fruit tray’ placed on the ancestral altar during Tet symbolizes admiration and gratitude towards Heaven and Earth and the ancestors, demonstrates people’s desire for a life of plenty, and reminds them that ‘When eating the fruit, think of the grower’.

We would all wait impatiently for ‘Giao Thua’ (Tet Eve), when the old year becomes the New Year. It’s commonly believed among Vietnamese that in Heaven there are 12 Highnesses tasked with monitoring and controlling affairs on earth, with each taking charge for one year at a time.

Giao Thua is also the time to send off the old ‘Highness’ and welcome the new one. I remember my grandfather, being the oldest in the family, would practice the ceremony with simple offerings. We all then received best wishes from family elders and waited for the first guests to visit, known as xong dat (first visit to a land). Traditionally, the first person to visit the home in the New Year must be a family member with a pure soul and genuine nature.

Over the following few days, it was crucial for me to visit as many of my relatives as possible as well as friends and former teachers. As an old proverb has it, ‘The first day of Tet is for visiting the father’s family, the second day the mother’s family, and the third day for teachers’.

New Year and Ancient Customs

After growing up in a village, life drastically changed for me once I began to attend university. Later, as a promising student, I went to study in France in the mid-1990s. It was not always an easy time. Some years I could not return for Tet and spent this special time of year at Besançon, near the Swiss border, enduring the snowy weather and wishing I could be home with my family.

On the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month, expect to see women in traditional conical hats selling goldfish from the back of motorbikes, families placing meals and pieces of elaborately decorated paper on small tables in front of their homes, and women and young couples releasing goldfish into any open body of water. As soon as the ceremony of freeing the fish is over, the family cleans the kitchen, polishing every utensil in preparation for the return of the Kitchen God.

In Hanoi, on the stroke of midnight, the whole family sits down to eat together. The family altar is decorated with fresh flowers, fruit, and red candles. Most Hanoians visit pagodas and make sure they have a leafy branch in the home; an ancient symbol of prosperity.
In the central region, people put a lot of energy into Tet preparations, baking biscuits and sweets for months beforehand.

The people of Hue in particular, are famous for their delicious food, cakes, and jam. Some people hire boats and drift down the Huong (Perfume) River reciting poetry that recalls olden times and setting candles afloat on the water.

Tet in Saigon is more vibrant, with friends getting together to have fun. People also visit pagodas, carrying huge sticks of incense or candles. The free and easy Saigonese are not as bound by tradition as their northern cousins. Many take their families to the beach or amusement centers as well as pagodas. Most shops stay open, and shopping is a popular pastime. Just like elsewhere, though, Saigonese never forget to wish one another all the best for the new year.

The year begins at the beginning of the second moon, after the winter solstice. The lunar year has 12 moons and a lunar month lasts 29 and a half days, and we add one month, every three or four years, to the third or fourth lunar month. www.luxtraveldmc.com

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