Vietnam News

Vietnam to reopen resort island Phu Quoc to foreign tourists

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Vietnam plans to reopen the beach-fringed island of Phu Quoc to foreign tourists from next month as the country looks at ways to revive its economy, which has suffered from extended COVID-19 lockdowns.

The island, 10 kilometres off the coast of Cambodia, is expected to open for a trial period of six months, the government said in a statement.

Vietnam, which is currently shut to all visitors apart from returning citizens and investors,  had managed to contain the virus for much of the pandemic but in the past three months it has faced a surge in infections driven by the Delta variant.

“The prolonged pandemic has seriously hurt the tourism industry,” Vietnam’s Tourism and Culture Minister Nguyen Van Hung said.

Fully vaccinated tourists with a negative coronavirus test will be eligible to visit Phu Quoc, the statement said, adding they could fly to the island on chartered or commercial flights.

Foreign arrivals to Vietnam slumped from 18 million in 2019, when tourism revenue was $42 billion, or nearly 12 per cent of its gross domestic product, to 3.8 million last year.

At the same time, lockdowns in recent months have prompted companies to suspend operations.

August industrial output fell 7.4 per cent from a year earlier, while exports were down 5.4 per cent and retail sales plunged by 33.7 per cent.

Vietnam would fully vaccinate all residents on Phu Quoc before opening, the tourism ministry said, adding the island had not reported any community infections and had sufficient COVID-19 quarantine and treatment facilities.

Neighbouring Thailand has already partially reopened to foreign tourists, including on the resort island of Phuket, where about 70 per cent of the population was required to be vaccinated.

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh conceded this month Vietnam was facing a lengthy battle against coronavirus, which has infected over 570,000 people and killed 14,400, saying it could not just rely on lockdowns and quarantine.

Meanwhile, the foreign ministry said on Thursday Ho Chi Minh City, the epicentre of the latest outbreak, had allowed restaurants to offer takeaway meals and shippers to operate more widely in a slight relaxation of a tough lockdown.

Reuters – September 10, 2021

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