Vietnam Airlines is reportedly slated to start flying between Phu Quoc and South Korea in December, which will be the third direct international connection to the southern Vietnamese island.
The national carrier is still in talks with South Korean partners to launch the Phu Quoc - Seoul route, The Saigon Times Online quoted Nguyen Diep Mai, deputy director of the Kien Giang tourism department, as saying.
Phu Quoc is an island-district around 45km offshore the southern province of Kien Giang.
The provincial tourism sector really hopes the new South Korean service will be launched soon to attract more international tourists, with Vietnam’s National Tourism Year scheduled to take place on the island next year, Mai said.
Phu Quoc International Airport is now connected with Singapore and Cambodia’s Siem Reap.
There used to be a service to Russia but the route was temporarily suspended earlier this year as passengers became scarce.
Mai admitted that Phu Quoc is facing difficulty in luring international visitors via all gateways, according to The Saigon Times Online.
There are few available flights, and those operational are not always fully booked, she said.
Tourists can enter Kien Giang via the border with Cambodia and board passenger ships to Phu Quoc, but the current regulations on border entrance and exit discourage visitors, Mai added.
International tourists or foreign passport holders are required to leave Vietnam through the same border they enter the country, according to current immigration rules.
If visitors enter Kien Giang via Cambodia and go on to travel to Phu Quoc and other tourism spots such as Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, they have to return to Kien Giang to be able to leave Vietnam, Mai elaborated.
“It therefore takes tourists extra time and money,” she said.
As for sea travel, there is now a dearth of ships to bring tourists to and from the island, according to the official.
Mai said sea travel has the most potential among the three gateways as vacationers can visit Phu Quoc from Cambodia and Thailand through the Gulf of Thailand.
“Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand have all constructed seaports, but there are not enough ships qualified for international passenger transport, so we cannot launch any sea services,” Mai said.