After the difficulties due to the pandemic, businesses working in the field of tourism, services and many residents in Phu Quoc are waiting day by day for the pilot programme to welcome international tourists.
We are ready
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism had a meeting with Kien Giang Province on September 23 to work on preparations in welcoming international visitors to Phu Quoc through the “Vaccine passport” programme. Tentatively, Phu Quoc will initially implement a trial to welcome tourists at the end of November, and Kien Giang Province as well as Ngoc Island are in a hurry to vaccinate the whole local population to achieve herd immunity.
Mr. Truong Phu Quoc, living in Duong Dong, Phu Quoc, said he has received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and is waiting to get the second, which is planned for October 24. “From my point of view, vaccination not only aims to prevent the disease but also it is a prerequisite for our life to return to normal.”
An Thoi Port before the 4th outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic
After the fourth outbreak of COVID-19 across the country and a long-lasting period of social distancing, citizens who work in service businesses like Mr. Quoc have been severely impacted. He has lost a stable source of income from taking photos for tourists, at the moment, he has to work many seasonal jobs instead in order to finance his family’s daily living expenses.
In the same position, Ms. Yen Thanh, who is a trader in An Thoi, Phu Quoc, said that there has been a considerable drop in her family's income when she lost many business opportunities because restaurants in the local area have to close since there are no customers. According to her, the quick control of the infection cluster in Phu Quoc by the city and fast deployment of vaccinations to prepare to receive tourists are “the shared joy of many residents in Phu Quoc”. “Witnessing quick and drastic responses of the local government in controlling the pandemic, we are very convinced. We are ready and waiting for the day when tourists are going to be in Phu Quoc again.”
Businesses are rushing
Regarding the business perspective, Mr. Viet, a representative of Eco Beach Company on Hon Thom Island, Phu Quoc, said that he expects the vaccine passport will be implemented on schedule to catch up with the peak season of Western tourism, contributing to the recovery of the domestic tourism industry. The operating capacity of the company has reached only 30 per cent in nearly two years of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite difficulties and no revenue, the company still tries to guarantee the salary for the team of diving instructors so that they can be ready to return to work at any time.
Tourists enjoy the experience of walking on the seabed at Eco Beach, Hon Thom Island.
Successively suffering from pandemic outbreaks, the Plan To Travel company, specialising in organising tours to visit four islands, has only reached 50 per cent of its operating capacity in the past year and many employees are temporarily off or working online. However, employees have returned to work, and they are ready to be vaccinated, reconnecting with travel partners to wait for the day when the company is able to run at 100 per cent capacity.
Meanwhile, thanks to research, assessment and preparation in terms of the attitude and strategy from the first outbreak of COVID-19, Sun Group, one of the leaders of Phu Quoc tourism, said that they have been “ready to contribute to the overall success of the pilot programme to welcome international tourists to Phu Quoc."
According to Mr. Dang Minh Truong, Chairman of the Board of Management of Sun Group, during the period when Phu Quoc tourism was frozen, this group has concentrated on maintenance, refurbishment and renovation of all hotels, amusement parks, and aerial tram systems in Nam island, in addition to investment in tourism real estate with the successful launch of Sun Tropical Village - a wellness second home project.
New World Phu Quoc Resort of Sun Group is newly opened.
Sun Group also concentrates on developing new and attractive products and services to surprise tourists when they come back, such as the interactive mural painting project with the theme of love in the "Mediterranean town" of Sun Premier Village Primavera in the Southwest of pearl island, building wellness experience packages at hotels, hastily implementing "no-touch" and "one-touch" technology applications aiming to upgrade the experience and guarantee safety for tourists, catching up with new tourism trends.
In the middle of pandemic, Sun Group has still launched New World Phu Quoc Resort at Bai Kem Beach – a new resort, that was immediately mentioned by the prestigious TIME magazine as an experience to try in Phu Quoc. Especially in the upcoming New Year Holiday season, tourists going to Sun World Hon Thom Nature Park will experience a park with new themes and games that are present for the first time in Viet Nam.
Domestic tourists also get very excited
A vaccine passport is more than a "life vest" for businesses or employees working in the tourism sector. Tourists themselves are also looking forward to the day when they can go travelling again. In a recent survey by VnExpress with more than 2,200 participants, 62.3 per cent of respondents said that they are ready to travel when they receive two doses of the vaccine. Asking the same question, a survey on the BizLIVE website revealed that 78.4 per cent of tourists are ready. At the same time, according to the survey on Welcoming Travel Back published by the online travel booking platform Agoda, 60 per cent of Vietnamese tourists are very optimistic that domestic tourism will "take off" again within the next six months.
Domestic tourists are ready to travel again after receiving 2 doses of the vaccine
Identifying this trend, Mr. Anthony Lu, Director in charge of Mekong and China Region of Booking.com, said that the postponement of tourism in the past few months has certainly raised the desire to travel among Vietnamese people. Meanwhile, according to Mr. Dang Minh Truong, based on the experience of the previous pandemic outbreak, “we believe that tourism will step forward more drastically, and domestic tourism will remain the key market."
There is only a short time left until Phu Quoc reopening. Assoc. Prof. PhD. Tran Dinh Thien, a member of the economic advisory group for the Prime Minister, said from a strategic perspective that: “The “pilot” process in Phu Quoc must also be more open to domestic tourists and reconnect to domestic destinations.” According to him, the most important mission in “opening the door” in Phu Quoc is to open up the whole tourism sector in Viet Nam, and also to recover the economy that has been weakened after the pandemic.