CHIANG MAI, 25 January 2018: Vietnam will host the 2019 ASEAN Tourism Forum at the World Heritage destination, Halong Bay, with officials from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism confirming the bay’s brand new airport will open just ahead of the event.
Commenting on the project, VNAT vice chairman Ha Van Sieu said airport owners Sun Group had confirmed the first flights would test the airport’s readiness later this year, while commercial flights would commence either in late December 2018, or the first week of January 2019. ATF will be hosted 14 to 18 January 2019.
The VNAT vice chairman told a media briefing on the opening day of ATF that tourist arrivals in 2017 had grown by around 30% to reach close to 13 million.
The two-day TRAVEX component of the annual regional event, that rotates between the 10-member nations alphabetically will be managed by TTG Events. Booths (9 sqm) will cost USD2,890 (early bird rate) and USD3,050 after 29 May. A USD135 late fee applies after 4 October.
Very few other details were given other than to pledge that an airport now under construction at the bay will be open to commercial flights in time for the late January travel trade event.
The airport project is being developed by Vietnamese conglomerate Sun Group, which has invested USD330 million in the first privately owned airport in the country.
Located on Van Don Island near a glitzy casino that is also due to open later this year, passengers will still need to make a 50 km overland bus transfer to the centre of Halong Bay’s port city.
Currently, the nearest operational airport is at Haiphong around 85 km from the bay with a bus transfer time of two hours and 20 minutes. Downtown Hanoi is around 182 km from Halong Bay a three-hour 40 minute drive by shuttle bus.
TripAdvisor lists 71 hotels in Halong Bay city area, but the official brochure identifies just 15 properties.
Quang Ninh Exhibition of Planning and Expo Centre (QNEPEC), the venue for ATF 2019, stands in the centre of Halong City in Quang Ninh province.
Built in just 19 months QNEPEC is already an iconic building representing Halong Bay city’s tourism and economic achievements.
It features 21,000 square meters of floor space and cost VND1.15 trillion (USD51.34 million) to build.
Located on Tran Quoc Nghien Street the complex consists of two separate buildings connected by a system of elevators, escalators, and stairs.
The first building is used to showcase regional planning models and host events, exhibitions, and expos.
A second, dolphin-shaped building is reserved for the exhibition of public projects and signature architectural and religious structures in the province.