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Travel firms in Phu Quoc prepare for return of foreign tourists

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Part of Phu Quoc Island is seen from above. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh


As Phu Quoc prepares to welcome back foreign tourists, travel firms say they are ready and expectant.


Tran Nguyen, sales director of giant hospitality company and property developer Sun Group, which owns a number of resorts and tourist areas in Phu Quoc, told VnExpress International that everything from infrastructure to human resources is ready for the return of foreign tourists.


The Premier Residences Phu Quoc Emerald Bay the company owns is among fifteen five-star resorts where tourists can stay under a two-phase vaccine passport trial program that begins on November 20.


Nguyen said buildings in the property are separated from each other to ensure pandemic prevention and safety protocols have been created.


Her company has upgraded tourist facilities and amusement parks, trained human resources, and strengthened pandemic prevention measures as the tourism industry reopens, she added.


Le Thi Hai Chau, general director of Movenpick Resort Waverly Phu Quoc and Movenpick Villa and Residences Phu Quoc, said staff at both facilities have been fully vaccinated and received training in pandemic prevention to deal with unexpected situations.


Both facilities are in the list of fifteen.


"We have collaborated with partners from Russia, South Korea and Europe to prepare for the tourism reopening plan, and most of our partners have showed big interest in reopening Phu Quoc."


She also said that South Korea and Europe "are currently the two most promising markets for Phu Quoc" but did not disclose detailed figures.


Nguyen Dinh Thong of Eco Beach-Hon Thom, which offers undersea walking tours, said he hoped the vaccine passport program would be implemented as planned during Phu Quoc’s peak travel season between October and March.


He said over two years and four waves of Covid-19 his company’s operating capacity has shrunk to 30 percent.


Despite the difficulties caused by the pandemic, the company continued to pay diving guides their salaries so that they would be ready to return quickly.


Nguyen Nguyet Van Khanh, deputy marketing head at major travel firm Vietravel, said since mid-September, after Phu Quoc got the green light to allow in foreign tourists, the company has worked with foreign partners to develop new tourism products.


Vietravel is one of four tour operators chosen to offer their services during the pilot phase from November. To enter Phu Quoc, visitors are required to book a tour package with one of them.


Khanh said the company plans to operate one to two charter flights a month with 200-400 passengers to Phu Quoc by the end of this year. Next year the flight frequency would be increased to three to five, equivalent to 1,000 tourists a month, he said.


All Vietravel tourism staff have been fully vaccinated, and the company would evaluate them regularly to ensure tourists’ safety.


More expectations


Nguyen of Sun Group expects the pilot program in Phu Quoc to enable the tourism industry to take off again after two years of border closures and flight suspensions.


But she wants authorities to ensure consistent implementation of policies by all localities to create a "green lane for tourism" and eliminate overlapping regulations that could hinder tourism recovery.


"In some tourism markets where the pandemic is under control, we want the government to exempt visa requirements and relax entry and quarantine regulations to attract more tourists."


Chau hopes that the medical system in Phu Quoc would be upgraded, and people are trained to deal with unexpected situations if Covid reappears.


He wants local authorities to help hotels conduct pandemic response drills.


Pham Van Thuy, deputy general director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, said on Thursday that everyone aged eighteen or more in Phu Quoc have at least one Covid vaccine and the island is speeding up vaccination to ensure everyone on the island is fully vaccinated before reopening for tourism.


Phu Quoc got the green light from the government to welcome back fully immunized tourists from Europe, the U.S., Northeast Asia, Australia, and the Middle East from November 20.


Visitors need to furnish a certificate showing they are fully vaccinated or recovered from Covid. People under eighteen must furnish a negative Covid test result.


Vietnam's largest island gained global fame after the government allowed 30-day visa-free entry starting in 2014.

In 2019 it received over five million visitors, including 541,600 foreigners.


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