Sun, Jun 02, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Vietnam builds a luxury yacht marina

The socialist government has been supportive of promoting yachting, as it brings value to the country

Bloomberg

A commuter rides past rows of new high-rise buildings in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Sept. 12 last year.

Photo: AFP

Few things are more anathema to communism than a superyacht, except perhaps taking a ride to the marina in a Bentley.

In Nha Trang on Vietnam’s east coast, motorbikes still outnumber luxury cars, but there are signs of flourishing wealth everywhere.

The half-hour drive along the road to the country’s first deep water marina is filled with glimpses of plush resorts, some complete and others in various stages of development.

There is a palpable sense of the money and ambition being poured into this once sleepy fishing village, just a short flight from Ho Chi Minh City. That is reinforced when Ana Marina, which can accommodate up to 220 yachts, comes into view.

The changes that have catapulted Nha Trang into a thriving holiday destination in recent years for locals and foreigners, especially Chinese and Russians, encapsulate the dramatic advances in the formerly war-ravaged country.

Economic growth has held to more than 6 percent for the past five years, driven in part by a manufacturing sector that churns out everything from Nike sportswear to Samsung smartphones.

LG Electronics Inc last month announced plans to shift some of its production from South Korea to Vietnam to cut costs.

The economy could grow even larger than Singapore’s by 2029 if the current pace of growth continues, according to DBS forecasts.

Vietnam is also a source of stunning wealth creation. Ultra-high-net-worth individuals, defined as those with investable assets of US$30 million or more, were minted faster here in percentage terms than anywhere else in the world between 2013 and last year, eclipsing even China and India, Knight Frank’s 2019 Wealth Report found.

Even at the (much) lower end of the spectrum, things are improving. The country’s poverty rate is decreasing, there are not as many households suffering from food shortages and average monthly income per capita increased 10.2 percent a year from 2016 through last year to 3.7 million dong (US$158.82).

Mercedes-Benz AG sold 150 Maybachs, its luxury marque, in Vietnam in 2017, among the highest for the automaker in Southeast Asia.

Mercedes-Benz Vietnam said that it has been able to set a new sales record for its vehicles every year since 2012 and registered growth of 12 percent in the first four months of this year.

A fascination with pleasure craft is just further evidence of Vietnam’s arrival onto the conspicuous-consumption stage.

“People in Saigon have yachts, but the dilemma is Saigon is not near the sea,” Ana Marina chief executive officer Dang Hieu said, referring to Ho Chi Minh City by its previous name. “It’s on a river and I regret when boats are moored on boring water. People are also looking for a safe place to keep them.”

Ana Marina is anything but boring. Once it is completed later this year, the facility, about twice the size of New York’s Grand Central Station on land and water, will boast a clubhouse, conference center, fine dining restaurants and villas. Dang even took a trip to Monaco to see how a world-class yacht club is operated.

Inquiries are coming from as far afield as Japan and South Korea.

“People want to send their yachts to Vietnam to avoid undesirable weather conditions,” Dang said.

Vietnam’s socialist government has been supportive of promoting yachting, at least for tourism purposes. That is in contrast to China, where such ostentatious displays of wealth are frowned upon, limiting the market for superyachts.

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