17:02 | 20/02/2018 Economy- Society
(VEN) - Phu Quoc Island in Kien Giang Province is known as Pearl Island and has great potential for tourism and services development. Taking advantage of policy support from the party and the state, Phu Quoc is becoming one of Vietnam’s first three special administrative-economic zones.
Located off the country’s southern coast in the Gulf of Thailand, Phu Quoc covers nearly 600sq.km, equivalent to the area of the city state of Singapore. It has a diverse marine ecosystem with beautiful beaches. Phu Quoc is just two hours by air from the capitals of ASEAN member countries. Its location offers favorable conditions to promote economic development. Fifteen years ago, due to a lack of appropriate strategies, Phu Quoc’s economic potential could not be tapped. However, the island has undergone positive changes which promise it a bright future. Today, it takes just about two hours to fly from Hanoi to the island. Visitors to Phu Quoc can see vibrant investment activities there.
Over the past five years, more than VND5 trillion from the state budget has been invested in upgrading the north-south transport axis and roads around the island and its tourist sites. Underwater cables have been installed to provide the island with access to the national power grid. The first phase of the Phu Quoc International Airport project has been completed and put into operation. The second phase is underway so that the airport can serve five million passengers per year. The sea transport route connecting the island with the mainland has been expanded. Tourists to Phu Quoc can take luxury ships to visit the island.
Adequate infrastructure and transport facilities make Phu Quoc attractive to investors and the number of tourists to the island has grown.
According to the Phu Quoc Economic Zone Management Board, by the end of 2017, about 220 investment projects in the island had been granted investment certificates or had their investment plans accepted, with total registered capital of more than VND350 trillion. Of these, 32 projects have commenced operations with total investment of about VND60 trillion.
Ly Hoai Giang, Deputy Head of the Office of the Phu Quoc Economic Zone Management Board, said the island welcomed nearly three million visitors in 2017, exceeding the two-million goal set for the year. This result was double that of 2016 and 6-7 times higher compared with 2010.
Phu Quoc is a bright point in the economic picture of Kien Giang Province and the whole country, with per capita gross domestic product (GDP) reaching VND145 million in 2016 and growing an average 20 percent annually in recent years. Its total budgetary revenue in 2016 was tenfold that of 2010.
The world’s longest cable car system linking Phu Quoc’s An Thoi Township and Hon Thom Isle, invested in by Sungroup, will be put into operation on the 2018 Lunar New Year. This project is expected to attract more visitors to Phu Quoc. Ha Van Sieu, Deputy General Director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, said the island has great advantages in terms of marine ecotourism development.
The government has decided to develop Phu Quoc as one of the first three special administrative-economic units in Vietnam. Ha Van Sieu believes the island will undergo breakthrough changes. Once the National Assembly approves the draft law on special administrative-economic zones, the island will be able to promote institutional reform and streamline its apparatus in order to professionalize management and create an open, favorable business and investment environment. This will help Phu Quoc attract more investors in coming years.
Among the areas planned as special administrative-economic zones, including Phu Quoc (Kien Giang), North Van Phong (Khanh Hoa) and Van Don (Quang Ninh), strategy makers believe Phu Quoc has the best prospects due to its infrastructure and transport connections (by air and sea) with the mainland, as well as with major tourism, economic and cultural centers of Vietnam and the ASEAN region.
Kien Giang Province is seeking to build Phu Quoc as a smart city. By the end of 2017, the first phase of this project had been completed, putting into operation a software system catering for one-stop administration in seven communes and townships. WiFi devices have been installed in eight tourist sites. Many cameras have been installed with connections to the monitoring center of Phu Quoc District Police and the provincial police station. A specific software system has also been put into use to serve online management of accommodation services. Phu Quoc is the first administrative unit in Vietnam that has built the foundation of a smart city.
Ly Hoai Giang said Phu Quoc expects its per capita income will reach US$20,000-30,000 per year in the 2021-2030 period, much higher than the Ministry of Planning and Investment forecast for 2030, which was US$13,000.
Kien Giang Province People’s Committee Chairman Pham Vu Hong:
To develop as a special administrative-economic zone, Phu Quoc will need strong policies and mechanisms that enable it to compete with other economic zones in the region and the world. The island expects to become a dynamic economic zone where ambitious investment plans can be realized.