|A beach on Phú Quốc Island. — VNA/VNS Photo Huy Hải
KIÊN GIANG — Phú Quốc, dubbed Việt Nam’s Pearl Island, is facing plummeting tourism due to high prices of airfares and other services, and losing its own unique identities, according to experts.
After experiencing overheated post-COVID-19 development in 2022, the island, once ranking among most-favoured destinations locally and globally, has seen tourists turning their backs, with a steep decline in the number of local and foreign visitors.
During long national holidays like April 30-May 1 (the South Liberation and May Day holiday) or National Independence Day on September 2, the number of arrivals did not see much improvement.
The number of domestic visitors to the island dropped by 32.9 per cent during the National Independence Day in September this year compared to the same period last year.
The room occupancy during this period was only almost 30 per cent.
Travel agencies said the arrival decline has been forecasted long before, since investors headed to the island to build new projects, spoiling natural landscapes and leaving the eco-system imbalanced.
Nguyễn Quốc Kỳ, chairman of the Board of Directors of Vietravel Airlines, said “Travel agencies and airlines have been blamed for hiking prices, but basically we have not managed destinations well. We have to look at the history of each locality to see that this way of management cannot attract tourists.”
Associate Professor Trần Đình Thiên, former head of the Việt Nam Institute of Economics, said Phú Quốc and other popular tourism destinations in Việt Nam are facing an alerting situation.
Domestic tourism has proven its important role, especially in difficult times, but domestic tourism has boomed and then collapsed, especially in some major tourist destinations like Phú Quốc.
“We have to review why tourism has boomed and reached the highest growth level and then declined. It is this decline that makes consumers likely to prefer overseas travel rather than domestic,” he told Vietnamplus.
How to save Phú Quốc
|Cable cars to the island. VNA/VNS Photo Huy Hải
The People's Committee of Phú Quốc City has proposed a number of solutions to stimulate tourism demand, including tightening control over prices and service quality.
Inspections teams will be mobilised to monitor service prices and quality, as well as assess the capacity of tour guides and serving ability of taxis and tourist boats during upcoming holidays like Christmas, New Year and Tết (Lunar New Year).
Chairman of the city People’s Committee Huỳnh Quang Hưng said that Phú Quốc will also strengthen State management over tourism, increase inspections to control prices, and ensure the quality of services.
The city’s authorities have launched tourism promotion campaigns from mid-November in key markets like Hà Nội, Đà Nẵng, and HCM City.
The island city will hold the “WOW Phú Quốc” communication campaign with the message of “I love Phú Quốc”.
A website named “WOW Phú Quốc” will be launched, providing detailed information about destinations on Phú Quốc Island.
An event titled “Phú Quốc Day” will be organised in key domestic markets such as Hà Nội, Đà Nẵng and HCM City, together with roadshows with travel agents and key opinion leaders (KOLs), and exhibitions.
Deputy Director of the Việt Nam National Authority of Tourism Hà Văn Siêu said huge investment has been made in Phú Quốc to make the island a major destination of not only Việt Nam but also the region and the world. Many major investors have come to Phú Quốc and made clusters of tourism products.
He said although the government has offered an open policy to the island, which is its advantage, local competitiveness in price, connection, advertising and promotion are important issues that need to be discussed by local authorities and investors to have better promotional programmes and campaigns if they want to regain the previous tourist flow as well as create new customer streams.
“We recommend exploiting the depth of quality. Besides focusing on service facility investment, we must invest a lot in other activities so that tourists have more experience.
“Phú Quốc not only has beach resorts and entertainment centres. We must make sure that entertainment services in the island are imbued with indigenous values and local cultural imprints to leave a deep impression,” he said.
He said this requires the joint efforts of local authorities because most investors in Phú Quốc are foreigners. The host (local authorities) or the service providers still play a key role in making the island different from other global tourism hubs, he said.
He emphasised that a tourist destination must maintain unique local features. It’s true for all destinations, not only Phú Quốc. — VNS