A months-long campaign is poised to begin this weekend with a number of activities seeking to develop sustainable and eco-friendly tourism on the world renowned island of Phu Quoc off the coast of southern Vietnam.
The 'Phu Quoc Green Tourism' campaign, jointly held by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper and the Kien Giang Province administration, will kick off on Saturday and run until the end of this year.
Phu Quoc, dubbed a ‘pearl island,’ is a district administered by Kien Giang, and is Vietnam’s largest island.
The campaign is intended to support a master plan by local authorities to turn Phu Quoc into “an international-level hub of ecotourism,” said Mai Van Huynh, deputy chairman of Kien Giang.
“To this end, environmental protection must be a top priority and green tourism is the key solution for sustainable tourism development on Phu Quoc,” Huynh told Tuoi Tre.
Huynh said the green tourism model chosen for Phu Quoc is being embraced by many countries and tourists from all over the world.
“Green tourism brings in many benefits, such as contributing to natural conservation, protecting biodiversity and local culture, generating jobs, and increasing income for locals,” he explained.
The official underlined that such resources as primitive forests, white sands, and paradise-like beaches are “priceless gifts given by Nature” that earns Phu Quoc the 'pearl island' fame.
“This is why local authorities, businesses and residents are all interested in developing eco-friendly tourism on the island,” he said.
“The island is now home to resorts with orchards developed along the streams, enabling tourists to stay as close as possible to the nature. Facilities such as Safari Vinpearl have created a habit of developing properties without affecting the natural environment.”
Huynh, however, admitted that tourism development on the island has also brought about issues.
“The tourism sector has been developing too aggressively in recent years,” he said.
In 2010 there were only 1,766 rooms for accommodation on Phu Quoc. That number had quickly risen to 6,000 by the end of last year, according to the official.
Last year Phu Quoc received more than one million visitors, compared to 328,800 in 2010. In 2016, tourist numbers are expected to top 1.4 million.
“The rapid development has resulted in environmental pollution - one of the biggest challenges we are facing and a situation to which we are actively seeking solutions,” he admitted.
Huynh said Kien Giang will prioritize tourism projects that use environment-friendly materials and equipment, and will offer incentive policies to attract investors for the island wastewater and garbage treatment facilities.
“We will also encourage local residents and tourists to keep the environment clean, and ask businesses to protect the natural resources,” he said.