Business / Economy

Chinese travelers spurring Vietnam's economy

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-06-20 07:43

Chinese travelers spurring Vietnam's economy

A Vietnamese woman sells local specialities to Chinese travelers at a Vietnam market in the city of Chongzuo, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, on the border between the two countries. [Photo/China Daily]

The five-star Muong Thanh Luxury Nha Trang Hotel in central Vietnam is one of many hotspots for increasing numbers of Chinese tourists who enjoy the hotel's buffet or buying local specialities, including agarwood products and handmade jewelry inlaid with natural pearls.

In the dining hall of the 48-storey hotel in Nha Trang City, Khanh Hoa province, most diners sit in groups and speak Chinese enthusiastically. Among them, on Sunday, two elderly couples, two middle-aged couples and a teenaged girl were sitting around a table, enjoying seafood.

"All my family members, including my parents, my wife, my daughter and I like seafood very much. The food here is delicious," the middle-aged man, Zhang Deyi, from the central Chinese province of Henan, said.

His daughter, swinging her braid back and forth, added: "I like the lobsters down there." Zhang said that food at the hotel is good, but at night, the whole family preferred sitting in a restaurant near the beach along Tran Phu Road in the city, where they can pick up live lobsters and sea-urchins with their own hands and give them to local chefs to grill on charcoal.

In the evening, Hoang Sa Seafood Restaurant on Tran Phu Road was serving around 100 customers. "Most of our customers are foreigners, and nowadays, some 80 percent are Chinese tourists," said Huu Hoang. a restaurant clerk.

According to Hoang, most of the foreign visitors to Nha Trang used to be Russians, but Russia is facing an economic slowdown, so now most visitors come from China. The clerk's words were evidenced by the fact that more and more hotels and restaurants in Nha Trang are using menus written in Chinese, instead of Russian as was previously the case.

Decked out in a black Dolce & Gabbana dress dotted with white daisies, and a matching pair of loafers and a clutch with the same pattern, Wei Chunjie, a graduate from Peking University, said that she enjoys visiting beauty spots and eating seafood with her friends, but dislikes the dual-price policies, illegally applied by some restaurants and shops here.

"We have just bought live lobsters at a price of 1 million Vietnamese dong ($44) per kilogram. But half a minute later, a Vietnamese customer bought the same lobsters for 800,000 Vietnamese dong," the fashionable girl said, adding that the same situation happened when she and her friends bought agarwood products. "However, agarwood products here are very good and less expensive than in China," she said, her smile utterly charming.

In Khanh Hoa province, dubbed Vietnam's agarwood capital, it is easy to catch sight of dozens of Chinese tourists shopping at agarwood handicraft production bases or showrooms. Most products carry price tags written in Chinese: 300 yuan ($46) to 1,000 yuan for an agarwood bracelet, or 1,000 yuan to 3,000 yuan for a necklace, for example.

Tran Ngoc An, owner of an agarwood handicraft production base in Khanh Hoa's Van Ninh district, said that prices of agarwood range from 1.5 million Vietnamese dong to 40 million Vietnamese dong per kilogram.

Standing next to An, a tall Chinese elderly man Wei Yonglu, director of Vietnam-China Flavoring Company, said in perfect Vietnamese that besides Chinese nationals who come to Vietnam merely for sightseeing, more and more Chinese people visit the country for both tourism and business purposes.

"Most business-minded Chinese come to Vietnam to tour and seek ways to import materials and export their finished products," Wei said.

In the past, many Chinese visitors to Vietnam were aged between 30 and 40 and were from southern China and traveling on cut-price package tours by train or coach to northern Vietnam in groups of more than 20 people. In recent years, however, more and more Chinese from different provinces and cities, from various ages, come to Vietnam by air, and use luxury services.

The influx of Chinese visitors to Vietnam, mostly to Hanoi, the northern province of Quang Ninh, home to the World Heritage site of Ha Long Bay, and central coastal provinces such as Khanh Hoa, home to Cam Ranh Bay, and Da Nang, has been mainly attributed to beautiful landscapes, more diversified tourism services, rich cultural heritage, better infrastructure and more direct flights between the two countries.

Vietnam received more than 3.2 million foreign visitors in the first four months of this year, posting a year-on-year rise of 17.8 percent, announced the country's General Statistics Office. Specifically, Vietnam welcomed 789,500 Chinese visitors, up 47 percent.

According to Khanh Hoa's Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the central province hosted nearly 27,800 Chinese visitors, excluding those from China's Hong Kong and Taiwan, in 2013, nearly 33,000 in 2014 and roughly 182,400 in 2015.

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