Vietnam’s Phu Quoc Island prepares to welcome foreign visitors

06:00 | 02/10/2021 Culture & Tourism

(VEN) - Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has approved a proposed pilot plan by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism  to welcome foreign visitors with vaccine passports to Phu Quoc Island in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang. The pilot is to last six months starting in October, with a view to restoring tourism and related services and paving the way for the industry’s recovery once the Covid-19 pandemic is controlled.

Vaccinating residents

From October to December 2021, Phu Quoc is expected to welcome 2,000-3,000 visitors monthly on charter flights. Visitors will be served within a limited number of tourist attractions and resorts able to provide safe areas exclusively for international tourists.

vietnams phu quoc island prepares to welcome foreign visitors

Following evaluation of its initial phase, the program will be expanded in January 2022 to commercial flight passengers and more locations on the island. At this stage, the ministry is expected to welcome 5,000-10,000 visitors per month. During the six-month pilot period, tourism industry leaders estimate that Phu Quoc can welcome between 25,000-40,000 foreign tourists.

The six-month trial period could be extended if results are satisfactory. Vietnam is considering opening its doors to foreign visitors for other destinations, including Ha Long in Quang Ninh Province, Hoi An (Quang Nam Province), Nha Trang (Khanh Hoa Province), and Da Lat (Lam Dong Province). Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Van Hung said his ministry has been very careful in seeking to balance pandemic control with tourism maintenance.

According to a draft pilot scheme, the plan targets foreign tourists who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or those with certificates of recovery recognized by an authorized agency in Vietnam. Eligible tourists should be given their second shots at least 14 days and no more than 12 months before their entry. For those who have recovered from Covid-19, the time from hospital discharge to their entry date must not exceed 12 months. Travelers will be requested to undergo a RT-PCR test within 72 hours prior to their departure and certified negative for Covid-19 in English by authorities of the country that conduct the test. The scheme will be applied for visitors who have registered to join package tours.

Huynh Quang Hung, Chair of the Phu Quoc City People’s Committee said the island has 25,000 hotel rooms, including 15,000 5-star ones, many high-class entertainment areas, urban areas, and shopping centers. Only five F0 cases have been reported in Phu Quoc since the pandemic broke out and they have all been cured, and 50 percent of F1 cases are under isolation. The city strictly controls the pandemic’s prevention and has 4,356 beds for central isolation.

In the first nine months of 2021, Kien Giang welcomed 2.3 million domestic visitors (reaching 21 percent of the year’s target) and no foreign visitors, losing expected earnings of more than VND10 trillion. In order to help Kien Giang in general and Phu Quoc in particular restore tourism, local leaders proposed allocating vaccines for residents. So far, only 35 percent of residents aged 18 upward have been vaccinated, and the city needs an additional 250,000-300,000 additional doses.

vietnams phu quoc island prepares to welcome foreign visitors

Tourism stimulation

To realize the government’s direction on promoting economic growth, public investment disbursement and sustainable exports, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has prepared a nationwide tourism stimulation plan.

Under the plan, the ministry will carry out tourism stimulation campaigns titled “Vietnamese people travel in Vietnam” and “Safe and attractive Vietnam tourism”, which proved effective last summer. It plans to support businesses in selling tourism products at preferential prices with quality commitments.

Tourism products will be made suitable for post-pandemic trends, such as sustainable tourism, nature tourism and safe tourism. Other models like night tourism, cuisine, eco-tourism, golf, will also be developed. Available tourism apps such as “Safe travel in Vietnam”, the medical declaration system, and vaccination certification system will be upgraded to better serve tourism promotion.

In addition, the ministry will focus on promoting digital transformation in the tourism industry, and develop national tourism databases (including digital information about tourist attractions and other tourist services).

The ministry’s tourism promotion plan has been highly rated by businesses and experts, and is expected to help the sector return to operation after a long period of hibernation.

Hoa Quynh