Developing tourism in Sa Pa: it’s time to ‘play big’

While the number of tourists flocking to Sa Pa is increasing, tourism activities and services lack diversity.

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With its irresistible natural charm and unique upland culture, Sa Pa, one of the top destinations in the world in 2019 as voted by National Geographic Magazine, receives millions of domestic and foreign travelers every year.

Developing tourism in Sa Pa: it’s time to ‘play big’

Sa Pa has changed a lot since major investors set foot in the land. As transport and tourism infrastructure have been developed in a methodical way, Sa Pa has attracted more and more travelers.

However, analysts point out that Sa Pa still lacks professional tourism services that can help persuade travelers to stay longer in Sa Pa and spend more money.

Nguyen Dieu Mo from Thanh Tri district in Hanoi, who took a trip to Sa Pa for 3 days and 2 nights, complained that she and other travelers in the same group had to manage to find a spacious restaurant with professional service in the central area.

After a day of conquering Fansipan mountain and visiting villages, they had a dull night as there were not many entertainment services at night.

Restaurants and eatery houses are small and located far from each other. They are overloaded during holidays and weekends.

“Sa Pa lacks centralized business streets, well planned to satisfy travelers’ demand to spend money and enjoy good experiences,” she said.

A report from local authorities showed that in the first half of 2019, Sa Pa received 1.6 million travelers who brought turnover of VND5.2 trillion, or 133 percent of revenue of the whole year of 2018 and 9 times that of 2013.

A report from local authorities showed that in the first half of 2019, Sa Pa received 1.6 million travelers who brought turnover of VND5.2 trillion, or 133 percent of revenue of the whole year of 2018 and 9 times that of 2013.

Though turnover is rapidly increasing, each traveler only spends VND3 million on average on the trip which lasts 2-3 days on average.

Analysts say the spending level is lower than other busy tourism markets, but Sa Pa has great potential for development.

The income is mostly from dining and accommodation services. However, even these two most essential needs cannot be fully satisfied.

 

There are nearly 600 accommodation facilities in Sa Pa, with nearly 7,000 rooms and 14,000 beds. Experts predict that Sa Pa will need 25,000 rooms by 2030, including 3,000 3-5-star hotel rooms.

The services provided in Sa Pa are still not well organized because of inappropriate investments.

Except for the modern Sun World Fansipan Legend tourism complex and Hotel De La Couple, which have specific identities, tourism and entertainment services in Sa Pa, including restaurants, accommodations, and massage and sauna places, are mostly provided by small separate facilities.

Visitors to Sa Pa have many daytime experiences, but there are not many entertainment services at night. This explains why the average stay in Sa Pa is two days, according to the Lao Cai provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

The gap in tourism services opens great opportunities for modern spaces in Sa Pa.

Sun Plaza Cau May, the shophouse – trade – service complex developed by Sun Group, will be put into operation by early 2021.

More than 20 shophouses will be located on Cau May street, the central route of Sa Pa, where all crossroads lead and all tourists pass.

Located in an advantageous position, Sun Plaza Cau May will be able to receive a large inflow of travelers to Sa Pa, thus creating a shopping, entertaining and experiencing space in the “heart” of the mountainous town.

Lao Cai provincial authorities in August asked the Prime Minister to approve a plan to develop Sa Pa airport project under PPP (public private partnership) in Cam Con commune in Bao Yen district.

Sa Pa airport would be built on an area of 371 hectares, designed as a 4C-level civilian airport and level-2 military airport with one runway and road system connecting the 2-lane Noi Bai – Lao Cai expressway. 

M. Ha