Phu Quoc Island off the southern province of Kien Giang is poised to resume allowing international tourists to visit as Vietnam continues to see success in containing the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.
The move is intended to get the country’s struggling tourism back on track. Steps are currently being taken to boost domestic tourism and welcome foreign tourists.
The second stage in restarting the country’s tourist industry is reopening borders to countries that have successfully curbed the spread of the virus and are no longer reporting cases of community transmission.
Vietnam also plans to create a ‘travel bubble’ with Southeast and Northeast Asian countries, including China, Japan, and South Korea, as well as several high-spending tourism markets, such as Australia and New Zealand, to prevent the disease from resurging in the country.
Phu Quoc Island will be the guinea pig for the idea as the government will team up with tourism associations, industry businesses, and provincial authorities to prepare a necessary protocol for welcoming international tourists.
Notably, the ministry will collaborate with the Ministry of Transport in holding talks with national carrier Vietnam Airlines, budget carrier Vietjet, and other overseas airlines to allow the gradual resumption of international flights.
The opening of borders, specifically Phu Quoc’s, can only happen if all parties involved comply with regulations on disease prevention and control. The Government will cooperate with the Ministry of Health to lay down a set of relevant criteria for incoming travellers.
The government has introduced a visa exemption scheme for foreigners visiting the island, effective from July 1. The scheme gives a significant procedural advantage, creating psychological comfort among tourists. The central government will give Kien Giang Province the go-ahead to bring international tourists back toward the end of this year.
All the quarantine systems are operational at Phu Quoc International Airport. Once the government gives permission, the airport will prepare to welcome international tourists to the ‘pearl island. Around 12,000 tourists visit Phu Quoc daily. The island currently accommodates around 12,000 visitors, including about 8,000 arriving by air, per day.
According to the Ministry of Health, Vietnam reported no new COVID-19 cases on 12 June, with less than eight per cent of the 328 patients remaining in treatment. Also, Vietnam has reported no community transmission for the past 50 days.