Vietnam Looks To Reopen Phu Quoc For International Tourists

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For the first time in nearly 18 months, Vietnam is looking to welcome some tourists back into the country. While the reopening will be limited to just Phu Quoc, an island tourist destination, it will be a pilot program to see how feasible it is to welcome international tourists and potentially reopen for more visitors. Phu Quoc could be open for tourism from November.

Vietnam is preparing to reopen international tourism at Phu Quoc, which could benefit the country’s airlines that have struggled due to reduced demand. Photo: Getty Images

Vietnam looks to reopen Phu Quoc

After reviewing various proposals, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh of Vietnam has indicated approval for reopening Phu Quoc to foreign tourists on a pilot basis. This will make the island the first part of Vietnam to open for foreign tourism for the first time in well over a year.

The pilot program will still need to be fleshed out before tourists are welcome back, but some conditions are already on the table. Vietnam’s government has indicated it will only accept foreign tourists who are fully vaccinated, at least 14 days before arrival and not more than 12 months before the date of entry.

In addition to the vaccination requirement, tourists must have a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure. On arrival in Phu Quoc, there may be other health screenings, but those details are currently being worked on.

The government is also looking to boost vaccinations in Phu Quoc. As the first part of the country to reopen, Vietnam wants to take as few risks as possible and is looking to vaccinate residents of the island. Already, 35% of the population on Phu Quoc, according to the government, have received at least the first dose, so there is some room to go.

Vietnam had been expected to use Phu Quoc as the primary reopening pilot program for international tourism, largely because of the benefits of Phu Quoc as an easily isolatable destination in case the health situation worsens as a result of the reopening. This mirrors some of what Thailand has done with Phuket.

About Phu Quoc

While most people landing in Vietnam are coming to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, a popular tourist destination in Vietnam is an island located off the southern coast of Cambodia and southeast of Vietnam. Featuring beach access, tropical jungle, some hiking, and wildlife, there is plenty to do on the island, and tourists are likely to walk away with a great experience.

Phu Quoc has been a growing hub for tourism. However, it can often be overshadowed by other beach destinations like Phuket and Bali. But, it is an important tourist destination for Vietnam. As the country prepares to reopen, Phu Quoc’s island status is helpful to keep from community spread on the mainland and allows for a more isolated reopening pilot program for tourism.

Air service to Phu Quoc

The main airport serving the island is Phu Quoc International Airport (PQC). This airport can handle widebody flights, but it mainly sees flights to destinations within Asia. Once the island officially reopens and assuming the Vietnamese government allows international flights to land on the island, expect connections to major hubs like Seoul or Kuala Lumpur and some domestic connections to Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, among others.

Expect Vietnamese airlines, especially Vietnam Airlines, Bamboo Airways, and VietJet, to benefit from Phu Quoc’s reopening. However, as far as international travelers go, it may not be easy to get many connections from Europe or the US to Phu Quoc.

Airlines are likely to remain cautious about adding new connections or resuming flights to Phu Quoc without guarantees of a reopening. There are still many details Vietnam has to work out, including which vaccines will be accepted, what proof of vaccination will be accepted, and whether there will be caps on entry either in the form of pure passengers or flight number caps.

Phu Quoc will help be a case study for the reopening of Vietnam. The country has taken a very strict approach to the virus, but that has come at the expense of its tourism industry, which has seen plummeting revenues due to Vietnam’s closure.

Would you visit Phu Quoc if it reopens? Let us know in the comments!