Friday, August 17, 2007

Saigontourist targets 2,000 more deluxe rooms in 5 years



By DAO LOAN

(SGT-HCMC) Vietnam’s biggest tourism corporation Saigontourist has set out a high target to have around 2,000 more high-end hotel rooms in the next five years, bringing to at least 6,000 five-star rooms by 2012, the company’s top leader said.

Nguyen Huu Tho, general director of Saigontourist Holding Company, said here on Saturday that the company would build and upgrade numerous hotels in HCMC, Hanoi and some other major destinations around the country.

The aim is to increase the number of high-standard rooms by 50% within the next five years, Tho said at the ground-breaking ceremony on Saturday to expand the four-star Grand Hotel in downtown HCMC into a five-star facility.

“We are focusing (resources) on projects to expand and build hotels, office buildings and trade centers, with an aim to have at least 6,000 five-star rooms in the next five years, including rooms at joint-venture projects,” he said.

The Grand Hotel on Dong Khoi Street is being upgraded at a cost of VND328 billion, or more than US$20 million, and upon completion in 2009, the facility will have 173 new rooms plus 63 upgraded rooms.

Several four-star hotels in the list to get facelift in the immediate future include the Majestic, Kim Do, and Continental hotels, which will also be turned into five-star hotels, he said.

Saigontourist plans to spend around US$50 million to upgrade the Majestic Hotel into a five-star hotel plus a 27-story office building, while the Kim Do Hotel will also be made a five-star hotel of over 300 rooms.

It is currently also expanding the Rex Hotel adjacent to the City Hall, and building the HCMC Exhibition and Convention Center in Saigon South.

“With the new and expansion projects we will have 1,000 more new luxury rooms in 2009 to serve the growing demand of guests,” he said.

Vice Chairwoman of HCMC Nguyen Thi Hong said at the ceremony that the city’s authorities are determined to boost hotel development to quickly resolve the shortage of luxury hotel rooms.

“The city’s People’s Committee and related departments will bring out many incentives to support companies to start up their (hotel) projects soon,” she said.

Saigontourist is now managing many hotels and resorts across the country. In HCMC, together with many big hotels it owns such as the Majestic, Rex, Grand, and Bong Sen, the company also acts as the local partner in many other big hotel projects such as the Caravelle, the Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers, and the New World Saigon.

Last year, the company welcomed around 1.5 million tourists, up 1.6% on the previous year, and obtained total revenue of nearly VND5.2 trillion, up 13% year-on-year.

There are currently 25,500 hotel rooms of three- to five-star rating throughout the country, and 6,500 out of the number in HCMC alone.

Given the strong tourism development, HCMC’s tourism authorities estimate that the city should face a shortage of 14,500 hotel rooms by 2010, including 7,000 three- to five-star hotels.