Vietnam hopeful to resume business events from August

Hoteliers report of enquiries and even confirmed event bookings as restrictions began easing in late-April

Ho Chi Minh City: Vietnam lifted all restrictions and social distancing measures it adopted on May 7. Credit: Getty Images

HO CHI MINH & DANANG - Foreign business events in Vietnam from markets like Korea could resume as early as August, according to hoteliers who report of confirmed event bookings and enquiries as the country lifted the restrictions and social distancing measures since 7 May.

Vietnam now permits organisers to host spectator sporting events and other events that draw large crowds, although they must observe "the highest hygiene measures", including keeping locations clean and ensuring that customers can wash their hands, Nikkei Asian Review reported.

The Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam is also proposing that the government partially lift the suspension of international flights starting 1 June, local media VnExpress reported.

In central Vietnam, Sheraton Grand Danang Resort, whose largest event spaces can host up to 1,000 delegates, expects to see a return of interest from its top feeder market, Korea, once all flights are scheduled to return in early-June.

Ms Lan Nguyen, director of marketing communications at the resort, revealed that the resort has recently secured event bookings from Korea for August onwards, for groups ranging up to 200.

The luxury resort has also been receiving MICE group inquiries from short-haul markets such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Macau, although for noticeably smaller groups. Its latest inquiry from Hong Kong was for a core corporate team of less than 50.

With business prospects on the horizon, the resort is planning to reopen from 1 July, but could be considering an earlier date in June given the easing government restrictions and market demand.

Other hoteliers in Ho Chi Minh City and Danang that M&C Asia spoke to also report seeing event enquiries from June onwards, but expect business to pick up only in the last quarter of 2020.

Park Hyatt Saigon's director of sales and marketing, Ms Nguyen Phuong Anh, is expecting that local events will begin slowly coming back in June and pick up in the coming months.

The hotel has been seeing event inquiries for business events, weddings and private celebrations. Event organisers are also requesting to divide event groups into smaller groups of 20 to 30 pax.

Furama Resort Danang, which has large-scale convention venues that can host up to 1,000 and 2,500 delegates, has also received some enquiries for events from June to September, although none have yet been confirmed.

Boutique luxury hotel Caravelle Saigon's general manager Mr Michael Robinson said that while he hopes that business events will return in June, it remains "still too early to tell".  

The hotel is currently seeing very few event enquiries, with most enquiries for late-2020 and 2021. Given that countries around the world have yet to lift their travel restrictions, many companies remain very cautious to confirm or organise events, Mr Robinson said.

Mark Muscat De Celis, director of sales and marketing of Le Méridien Saigon said that the "event leads trickling in are negligible" and mostly for events in Q4 2020 and 2021 for small events of up to 70.

He expects that local meetings could start to be held towards the end of May, while international meetings remain "a question of wait and see".

Already, clients are specifically asking to see meeting room layouts that meet the two-metre distancing requirements.

In terms of F&B, clients are also requesting for individual meal portions and coffee break setups with a F&B associate to serve meeting attendees individually.

Other requests also include signage in the conference centre to promote social distancing and hygiene procedures, protective masks, gloves and hand sanitisers for attendees.