Vietnam set to reopen a resort island to tourists in October
Vietnam has been a popular destination for years thanks to its exotic landscapes and magnificent beaches. The island of Phu Quoc is one such popular destination, but like the rest of the country, it's been essentially cordoned off from the rest of the world since the coronavirus pandemic began.
That's about to change.
Government officials say they are going to reopen Phu Quoc, which is 6 miles off the Cambodian coast in the southwest region of Vietnam, to tourists from October for a trial period of six months as it looks to revive its battered economy. At 222 square miles, Phu Quoc is the country's largest island, and because of its attractive tropic scenery is an essential element to Vietnam's travel industry.
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"The prolonged pandemic has seriously hurt the tourism industry," Vietnam's tourism and culture minister Nguyen Van Hung said in a statement.
During the pandemic, Vietnam has not allowed any foreign visitors to enter the country, with the exception of returning citizens and investors. Those measures helped contain the virus for a good amount of the past 16 months, but the country has still seen 14,400 deaths from COVID-19. The past three months have also seen a surge in infections caused by the delta variant.
Vietnam authorities say all residents on Phu Quoc will be fully vaccinated before opening the island up for visitors. The country overall has struggled to boost its vaccination rate. According to Reuters, just 2.9% of Vietnam's population has been inoculated against the virus.
To be allowed to visit Phu Quoc, you will have to be fully vaccinated as well as provide a negative coronavirus test. Commercial and charter flights will be allowed to land at Phu Quoc International Airport (PQC).
It remains unclear how the island will handle children under 12 who are not yet eligible for vaccination. We'll update this post when we find out.
Related: A review of the InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach resort in Vietnam
Restarting its tourism industry is essential to the financial fortunes of Vietnam. In 2019, 18 million foreign visitors arrived in the country, leading to $31 billion in tourism revenue, which was almost 12% of Vietnam's gross domestic product that year. Because of the pandemic, the number of visitors plummeted to 3.8 million in 2020.