|Phu Quoc island on verge of opening for business |
After a long wait, some Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and Vietnam are cautiously taking steps to welcome foreign tourists before the end of the year.
Last week, Phu Quoc's airport in Kien Giang province received international health accreditation for its safety measures against COVID-19. The island will be the first locality to pilot welcoming international tourists under a six-month pilot implemented in phases in order to minimise the risk of transmission, lasting until June next year.
For one month from November 20, Phu Quoc will organise one to three charter flights a day, from which to evaluate and learn from the operation process of picking up and serving fully vaccinated guests from the airport to their accommodation. Based on the experience, authorities will then evaluate the plan’s feasibility and make adjustments if necessary.
The island expects to welcome 3,000-5,000 visitors per month between December 20 and March 20, 2022. After evaluating the results of this first phase, and if requirements are met, the second phase from March to June 20 will see visitor numbers increase to 10,000.
Seven 5-star resorts selected for fully immunised foreign tourists to stay in the first phase include three Vinpearl resorts, two Movenpick reports, Vinholidays Fiesta Phu Quoc, and Premier Residences Phu Quoc Emerald Bay. Another eight establishments will serve international guests in the second phase.
If successful, next year could see additional tourists allowed to visit more of Vietnam's regions.
Fatima, a 25-year-old tourist from Sweden, contacted her tour operator to ask about her trip to Vietnam that has been delayed since March last year. Fatima was originally offered a refund, but decided to choose the second option of keeping incentives until the trip could finally be arranged.
“I want to quickly return to Vietnam after my first trip there five years ago. When I heard that Vietnam was about to reopen international flights, I asked the travel agency when my trip could restart. They said that they are working with partners and most likely, I can come here early next year,” Fatima said.
However, due to limitations in the pilot, her trip may be shortened in both time and visitable destinations.
According to Kien Giang People’s Committee, visitors from regions with high levels of safety in COVID-19 prevention and control such as Europe, the Middle East, Northeast and Southeast Asia, North America, and Australia will be permitted. Saigontourist, Vietravel, John’s Tours, Vina Phu Quoc Travel, and Red River Tours are licensed to pick up guests during this pilot period.
Visitors will book package tours and can visit destinations including Sun World Hon Thom Nature Park and Vinpearl entertainment complex, while taking part in activities such as underwater walks at Phu Quoc Seaworld Namaste coral park, diving and exploring corals, and visiting Ngoc Hien Pearl Farm.
Chairman of Kien Giang People’s Committee Lam Minh Thanh said that visitors must meet the requirement of full vaccination at least 14 days after receiving the second dose and not more than 12 months to the date of entry and those who have certificates of recovery within six months and negative COVID-19 test results via the RT-PCR method within 72 hours before departure will also be allowed.
Children under 18 years with a valid negative COVID-19 test result are allowed to travel to Phu Quoc with a fully vaccinated parent or guardian.
“Phu Quoc is speeding up full vaccination of at least 90 per cent of its population and workers by November 20. The pilot will contribute to building the image of Phu Quoc as a safe and friendly destination and create conditions for the international tourist market in Vietnam to gradually recover,” Thanh added.