13:00 | 09/10/2020 Culture & Tourism
(VEN) - Inadequate transport infrastructure is greatly hampering tourism development in the Con Dao Archipelago off the coast of the southeastern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau. Direct flights that will soon service the islands are expected to greatly help economic and tourism development in the region.
Con Dao consists of 16 islands, the largest one of which is Con Son. Con Dao served as a prison island for political prisoners during the French colonial era, when it was known as Poulo Condore. In later years, the Saigon regime imprisoned opponents in the infamous cells known as the "tiger cages". The old prison buildings are still standing and are open to the public as is a small museum tracing the island's history.
In addition to its interesting history, Con Dao is also an island of immense natural beauty with forested hills, deserted sandy beaches and extensive coral reefs making for some excellent diving. The Con Dao Islands separated from the mainland about 15,000 years ago, resulting in the development of dozens of undiscovered or undocumented species of wildlife. The entire archipelago falls under the oversight of the Con Dao National Park.
In 2017, CNN labeled Con Dao one of the 10 most peaceful islands in Asia, while the UK’s The Guardian called the archipelago an ideal tourist destination in Southeast Asia that few people know, and Travel & Leisure rated Con Dao as the most interesting archipelago in the world.
According to data issued by the Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province Department of Tourism, Con Dao welcomed almost 400,000 visitors in 2019, up 37 percent from 2018. Until now, one could only fly to Con Dao from Ho Chi Minh City, hampering greater tourism development.
Bamboo Airways will offer two direct flights per day from Hanoi (the capital), and one flight from the northern coastal city of Hai Phong and the central city of Vinh by the end of September. A Bamboo Airways representative said the decision was prompted by the fact that 90 percent of visitors to Con Dao come from northern provinces. Trinh Van Quyet, Chair of FLC Group and Bamboo Airways, said the flights to Con Dao are expected to boost small and medium service and tourism enterprises and cooperation in tourism development.
Vo Huy Cuong, Deputy Director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam, assessed the new flights to Con Dao will better satisfy growing demand for travel to Con Dao and ease the runway overload at the Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City.
Dinh Ngoc Duc, Director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism’s (VNAT) Marketing Department, assessed Con Dao has huge potential for tourism development, as the number of visitors to the archipelago has increased 400 percent. The new flights are an effort to promote domestic tourism in the remaining months of this year, and VNAT will help airlines, tourist attractions and enterprises develop domestic tourism, Duc said.
Trinh Hang, Director of the Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province Department of Tourism, said tourism infrastructure must be developed, as tourism has contributed 65 percent to the province’s gross domestic product (GDP), and the province seeks investment in 65 projects planned for the Con Dao National Park development. Hang said the province hopes to welcome high-class investors and high quality projects that are capable of creating quality tourist offerings suitable with the local ecosystem and environment.
Trinh Van Quyet, Chair of FLC Group and Bamboo Airways, said the start of direct flights to Con Dao is expected to help attract a new wave of investment.
Trinh Hang, Director of the Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province Department of Tourism:
Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province is preparing plans to attract quality investment projects that can help develop tourism and
protect the ecosystem at the same time.