Vietnam: opportunities for health and wellness sector

As Vietnam prepares to open up again from this December, there are opportunities to develop its medical and health tourism sector.

At a recent webinar looking at ways to develop medical tourism in the country, the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism has said that the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, environmental pollution, and a rise in diseases are leading to increasing demand for health care and medical tourism.  It believes the country has market development opportunities through its many mineral hot springs and mud, temperate climate, plus range of quality healthcare. The organisation suggests that this type of tourism will help diversify Vietnam’s tourism products, lengthen tourists’ stay and increase their spending.

Several hot mineral spring sites in Vietnam have already attracted investment, including My Lam hot spring tourist site (Tuyen Quang), the hot mineral spring resort of Quang Hanh, and Thanh Thuy (Phu Tho). Some resorts also provide mud bath, spa, sauna, and cooling services such as V-resort (Hoa Binh), Alba Thanh Tan (Thua Thien hue), Hundred Eggs (Khanh Hoa),  and Saigon-Binh Chau hot mineral resort (Ba Ria – Vung Tau).

Most medical tourism service establishments in Vietnam are still small  scale, with limited human resources. The organisation recognises that there are both challenges, and solutions to develop wellness tourism in Vietnam.

Problems to solve include training the workforce, improving the service quality, diversifying the forms of wellness tourism, plus strengthening promotion in the domestic and international markets to attract tourists.

The government needs to have policies and plans to develop wellness tourism. The sectors of tourism and health need coordinating to provide guidance for medical facilities as well as tourism businesses on ways and solutions to expand this type of tourism.

A pilot scheme aimed at opening up Phu Quoc Island in Kien Giang province to international visitors, boosting tourism promotion activities, and increasing the connection of businesses will all help to prepare for the full opening of the international tourism market.

Key target markets for tourism, health tourism and medical tourism will include Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, the United States, the UK, Germany, Spain, Russia, China, and Malaysia,

The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism has also outlined a tourism communication and promotion programme to reopen the entire Vietnamese tourism market.

Vietnam has a plan to fully reopen in June 2022. Firstly, the country will reopen popular tourist destinations in December, including Halong Bay, Hoi An, Nha Trang, and Dalat to fully vaccinated foreign tourists from safe destinations. The country is yet to announce what will constitute a safe destination.

Most inbound medical and dental tourism goes to Ho Chi  Minh City, so Vietnam’s medical travel sector will have to wait a few more months to receive international customers.