Sun Group chairman Dang Minh Truong spoke to VnExpress about how this complex took shape and how it was conceptualized and realized.
Why did the Sun Group invest in Ba Na Hills?
Honestly, when the leaders of the Danang People’s Committee asked other shareholders of Sun Group and I to invest in Ba Na (2007), we did not see the potential of this land.
In reality, many large investors faced difficulties in maintaining their operations because the tourism season only lasted three months and there was a strong dearth of amusement facilities. Besides, the terrain was treacherous, making it difficult to build a cable car system.
However, the determination of the city’s leaders and support from locals was a constant motivation for us to develop the project. During the construction process, the city extended a number of favorable conditions and incentives to Sun Group. We saw the determination of the city, and were keen to invest in earnest.
Dang Minh Truong - Sun Group Chairman
Besides, several years later, during a trip to Cyprus, we were disappointed that the scenery was nothing special -- just some sand and gravel -- yet we had to pay massive amounts of money to holiday there.
Meanwhile, with its raw natural beauty, Vietnam was far more worthy to be known around the world. We were aware that tourism was not only an economic sector but also a tool to promote the image of the country. Thus, after that tour, we decided to invest in the tourism sector in Vietnam.
Once the project began, with all its difficulties, what was the turning point, for you?
Building the cable car system was a challenging period. The terrain was so rough that technology could not deal with all of the problems. The living conditions for workers and foreign experts were not great, but all of them were driven to perform their tasks. Besides, engineers proposed many great ideas that had never been used anywhere else, infusing us with more energy to continue the work.
Our concerns vanished in 2009 on the day of the opening ceremony of Morin Hotel, several months after the cable car system was built. That day, a five-colored cloud appeared in the sky, opening up the beauty of the heavens to us. We saw happiness in the workers’ eyes.
Ba Na Hills built by Sun Group is one of the top reasons tourists visit Da Nang.
How do you evaluate the project, ten years later?
I am proud that Ba Na Hills has become a must-see destination for tourists visiting Da Nang. Even foreign investors who do not even know Sun Group know of Ba Na Hills. My name is attached to this project, and many of our partners save me as "Truong Ba Na" on their phones.
Projects like Ba Na Hills, which were invested in methodically, also contributed to major changes in Da Nang. When we started to invest here, the lights were turned off at 9 p.m, there were no coastal roads and what services were available were rather poor. Da Nang was only considered a transit area for tourists who wanted to visit Thua Thien-Hue and Quang Nam provinces. However, since then, Danang has become a tourism hug in Southeast Asia.
In my opinion, developing the tourism sector has not only benefited locals but also contributed to the development of other sectors.
The plan was to invest VND8 trillion ($347.8 million) to develop Ba Na Hills, but we are not stopping here. I think it is just the starting point because the visitor numbers at Ba Na Hills are still much lower than at other amusement places of similar scale in the world. With the current tourism growth momentum in Vietnam and Da Nang, Ba Na Hills has great development potential. We will continue to invest in this project.
The destination is designed to make visitors feel like they're in the middle of a European country.
What are Sun Group’s expectations for Ba Na Hills and other projects?
We expect to welcome the 15 millionth tourist to Ba Na Hills soon. During a visit to the project, representatives of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) were surprised by the scale of the project and the quality of the services, which they found was easily on par with other projects anywhere in the world.
We have set a target of taking Vietnam to the world and bringing the world to Vietnam, and in the future, we want to turn Sun World projects across the country into destinations that tourists – local or international – simply cannot miss.
Besides, we want to make Sun World a famous brand like Disneyland. We will make Sun World a symbol of quality services.
Bibliography: Vnexpress International