Phu Quoc City off Kien Giang Province in southern Vietnam will stick to its plan to welcome back international vacationers in the near term despite the recent detection of a new coronavirus cluster in the popular tourist destination.
The government-approved pilot plan for welcoming international travelers with 'vaccine passports' to Phu Quoc will be not affected by the outbreak, the Vietnam News Agency quoted deputy chairman of the province’s administration Nguyen Luu Trung as saying on Thursday.
The COVID-19 cluster that erupted in An Thoi Ward on Monday has been put under control and it has had no impacts on the island’s plan to receive foreign visitors with full vaccination, authorities said.
By Thursday noon, 69 positive coronavirus cases had been detected in several wards and communes thanks to a mass testing and screening drive, the provincial Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control reported.
After the detection, all necessary epidemic prevention and control measures have been taken promptly to bring the outbreak under control, the committee said.
On September 21, the city shifted to 'new normal' conditions after strict social distancing measures were eased as a result of effective epidemic control.
Under the six-month pilot plan expected to be launched in November, one month later the original schedule, an 'isolated tourism' model will be applied to welcome foreign tourists as long as they have obtained certificates of COVID-19 immunization, often called 'vaccine passports.'
Under this model, travelers will come to Phu Quoc through charter flights and stay in one location with limited travels.
A rehearsal of picking up international travelers from Phu Quoc International Airport to selected hotels will take place before the plan kicks off, said director of the provincial Department of Tourism Bui Quoc Thai.
To date, 17 accommodation establishments, five travel firms, and seven entertainment businesses have registered to participate in the pilot plan, Thai said.
The provincial administration emphasized that this plan will be executed in a way that ensures absolute safety for the islanders.
All local residents and people hailing from other places must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to the plan launch, authorities said.
By Thursday, Kien Giang, whose population is more than 1.73 million people, had administered over 243,000 first shots and some 50,500 second doses to local residents aged 18 and over, according to the Ministry of Health’s data.
Since the pandemic hit Vietnam in early 2020, the province has documented 43 deaths among the 4,985 COVID-19 cases, while the country has registered 728,435 patients, including 493,488 recoveries and 18,017 fatalities, the ministry reported on Thursday evening.
Phu Quoc, previously a district of Kien Giang, was turned into the country’s first island city on March 1 this year, pursuant to a resolution issued by the National Assembly’s Standing Committee in late 2020.
Over the past years, tourism has really developed into an important economic sector of Phu Quoc, with the overall increase in annual arrivals to the island reaching 28 percent, and for international arrivals only, the growth is over 45 percent per year, local leaders said.