Vietnam to reopen tropical resort island to international tourists in October

All residents on Phu Quoc island will be fully vaccinated before it opens for a six-month tourism trial

Vietnam plans to reopen the beach-fringed island of Phu Quoc to foreign tourists from next month, authorities said, as the country looks at ways to revive an economy suffering from extended lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The island, 10 kilometres off the coast of Cambodia, is expected to open for a trial period of six months, the government said on Thursday.

Vietnam, which is currently shut to all visitors apart from returning citizens and investors, had managed to contain the virus for much of the pandemic, but in the past three months has faced a surge in infections driven by the Delta variant. "The prolonged pandemic has seriously hurt the tourism industry," Vietnam's tourism and culture minister Nguyen Van Hung said.

Fully vaccinated tourists with a negative coronavirus test will be eligible to visit Phu Quoc, the government said, adding they could fly to the island on chartered or commercial flights.

Vietnam will fully vaccinate all residents on Phu Quoc before opening, the tourism ministry said, adding that the island had not reported any community infections and had sufficient COVID-19 quarantine and treatment facilities.

Foreign arrivals to Vietnam slumped from 18 million in 2019, when tourism revenue was $31 billion, or nearly 12 per cent of its gross domestic product, to 3.8 million last year.

Neighbouring Thailand has already partially reopened to foreign tourists, including the resort island of Phuket, where about 70 per cent of the population were required to be vaccinated.

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh conceded this month that Vietnam was facing a lengthy battle against the coronavirus, which has infected more than 570,000 people and killed 14,400, so could not just rely on lockdowns and quarantine.

Meanwhile, the foreign ministry said on Thursday that Ho Chi Minh City, the epicentre of the latest outbreak, has allowed restaurants to offer takeaway meals and shippers to operate more widely in a slight relaxation of a tough lockdown.

Updated: September 10th 2021, 6:34 AM