Vietnam bets on Phu Quoc to reopen tourism

HANOI, 23 July 2021: Vietnam’s Ministry of Transport supports a Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism’s proposal that would welcome back international tourists to Phu Quoc island in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang.

There are obstacles to overcome, particularly a spate of Covid-19 outbreaks that suggest authorities need to review prevention and control measures.

Vietnam’s borders are closed to foreign tourists, but there is growing pressure from the travel industry to back a pilot project that would reopen travel to Phu Quoc island.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism is currently collecting feedback on its draft pilot programme, which aims to open the island to international visitors with vaccine passports valid for six months beginning in October.

Under the scheme, ministry officials say Phu Quoc could welcome around 2,000 to 3,000 visitors per month on charter flights during the first phase, which will last three months.

If successful and also depending on Phu Quoc ability to keep Covid-19 infection at a manageable level, the second three-month phase through to the end of March 2022 should attract around 5,000 to 10,000 visitors per month.

Phu Quoc is a famous tourist island off the southern coast of Vietnam, close to the border with Cambodia. It offers tourists a visa-free stay for up to 14 days for visitors flying in or arriving on cruise ships.

But there is also plenty of evidence to show Phu Quoc, even with its island isolation, is not entirely free from the impact of Covid-19.

The gaming online news service GGR Asia reported this week that Phu Quoc’s Corona Resort and Casino had temporarily closed effective 19 July until further notice.

 Corona Resort and Casino is Vietnam’s first casino to allow eligible locals to gamble. It opened in January 2019.

As of 22 July, Vietnamese health authorities reported a daily average of 3,931 new cases (calculated over seven days). The cumulative total reached 71,144 cases since the pandemic started last year with 370 fatalities.