Phu Quoc foresees tourist influx

Tourist to Phu Quoc Island

With the island enjoying regular power supply from the national grid starting a few months ago, the prices of goods and services have been steadily declining and this is certainly acting as a magnet for tourists. Until the link-up with the grid power was supplied by generators on the island.

Besides, some major tourism projects like the Vinpearl Amusement Park, which opens next month, that are being developed will also attract visitors to the country’s largest island.

To take advantage of this influx of visitors, hotels, shops, restaurants, and other hospitality businesses are mushrooming.

Dozens of small hotels are popping up all over the main town of Duong Dong, with their construction racing against time to finish ahead of the peak tourism season between December and April.

Existing mini hotels, mostly owned by locals, are expanding with elevators and air-conditioners added to increase the number of rooms as well as comfort.

Besides, more and more shops and restaurants are opening, offering new products and services.

An Indian plans to open his first shop next month on Tran Hung Dao Street, which is transforming into a popular destination for foreign tourists. The shop will sell made-in-India jewellery.

Some people, however, express concern, warning too many resorts and hotels would damage the island’s natural beauty and tranquility.

“In the past, the island had a beachside road running around it but we are no longer able to do that,” a man who runs a private service that moves tourists around the island and asked not to be named, said.

“The road must take a bend everywhere it faces a resort or a giant hotel.”

Australian Jimmy, who said he has lived there for 10 years and now runs a small business selling tickets for the fast ferries from Phu Quoc to Ha Tien and Cambodia, felt that the island is losing some of its charm.

“Ten years ago the island was much more wonderful and there were a lot of western tourists coming here to enjoy lying on pristine beaches.

“The construction should be limited and planned well to limit adverse impacts on the native forests.”

Welcoming visitors

The island district of Phu Quoc is expected to welcome 800,000 tourists by the end of the year, with around 100,000 international visitors.

Nguyen Phuoc Thanh, head of the district’s sports, culture and tourism division, said the 800,000 mark was possible to achieve because there had been an increase in the number of domestic tourists.

Phu Quoc has welcomed 446,307 domestic visitors since the beginning of this year, while 72,617 international tourists visited the island in the first nine months.

However, domestic arrivals only averaged less than five per cent per year in the past two years, while foreign tourists boasted strong growth, over 14 per cent in 2012 and over 32 per cent in 2013.

Thanh said that more convenient transport was one of the main reasons leading to the strong growth of foreign tourists.

“Now tourists can easily reach the island both by sea and by air. There are many daily direct flights between Phu Quoc and big cities like Ha Noi and HCM City. There will be international direct flights to Phu Quoc in the near future,” Thanh told Viet Nam News.

A fast ferry service to transport goods and people between Phu Quoc and Rach Gia or between Phu Quoc and Ha Tien was put into operation in 2010. A new international airport was built in 2012.