The new service, which began in early June, means golf travellers from the Middle East and Europe can now easily access Vietnam’s world-class golf courses, especially the country’s top two layouts – Montgomerie Links and Danang Golf Club – on the Central Coast near Vietnam’s third major city of Danang.
Jon Tomlinson, the co-ordinator of Golf Coast Vietnam – a co-operative marketing group comprising the two courses, a Nick Faldo-designed course due to open later this year and the new Hyatt Regency Danang – said he was delighted Emirates had begun flying into Ho Chi Minh City.
“While Vietnam hasn’t been historically synonymous with great golf, the launch of Golf Coast Vietnam (www.golfcoastvietnam.com) and easy access from HCM through Danang’s new international airport has made the region a ‘must play’ golf experience in Asia.
“Additional historic cultural experiences at Hue and Hoi An [both UNESCO World Heritage cities} and the stunning coastline of Vietnam ensures visitors will take away a truly memorable experience and a great story of newly-discovered adventures,” he said.
There are less than 30 golf courses in Vietnam, but what the country lacks in numbers it more than compensates in quality.
Montgomerie Links, designed by eight times European Order of Merit winner, Colin Montgomerie and opened in 2009, was last year named at the Asia Pacific Golf Summit in Thailand as Vietnam’s best course. Its neighbour, Danang Golf Club, designed by former World Number One and dual British OPen winner, Greg Norman, which opened in 2010, was named best new course.
In May, US Golf Digest named Danang GC as the country’s best layout with Montgomerie Links third.
Both courses are located adjacent to famous My Khe Beach (dubbed China Beach after the Vietnam War), about 10 kilometres south of Danang, where numerous five-star properties including the prestigious and highly-acclaimed Hyatt Regency Danang, have been built in the past few years.
Laguna Lang Co, 50 kilometres north of Danang, which has been designed by six times Majors winner Sir Nick Faldo and is being built by the Banyan Tree group, is due to open at the end of this year. It is already being touted as at least equal to its fellow Golf Coast Vietnam member courses.
This will give the region three world-class courses, enough according to the International Association of Golf Tourism Operators to interest 75 percent of the 12 to 15 million golfers who are expected to make an international golf trip in 2012.
Emirates’ daily flights to Ho Chi Minh come at a time when several international airlines are planning to start flights to Vietnam.
So far, only Vietnam Airlines, Air France/KLM and Aeroflot have direct services to Ho Chi Minh from Europe. Qatar Airways flies there through Bangkok, while Saudi Arabian Airlines, Etihad and Finnair are planning to start direct services by the end of 2013.
According to Vietnam’s Civil Aviation Administration, the country is expected to receive between 34 million and 36 million passengers a year by 2015 and between 52 million and 59 million by 2019.
“It is a good time to connect Vietnam with the world via Dubai,” Thierry Antinori, Emirates’ executive vice-president, Passenger Sales Worldwide, said after the new service began.
“Dubai’s location between Vietnam and the West makes Emirates’ move a winning combination”, he added.
Emirates’ flight EK0390 leaves Dubai at 9.15 each morning, arriving in Ho Chi Minh City at 7.35pm the same day after a 7 hours 20 minutes journey. The return flight EK0391 leaves at 9.10pm and arrives in Dubai at 1.05am next morning (a flight time of 6 hours 55 minutes), with excellent connections to cities throughout Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.