The resort island of Phu Quoc in Kien Giang province has seen a surge in tourist arrivals after Vietnam fully reopened on March 15. However, there is still much to do to revive the tourism industry to the pre-pandemic level.
Data from Kien Giang's Department of Tourism showed that the Mekong Delta province received nearly 1.6 million visitors in the first quarter of 2022, up 31.1% from the same period last year. Of the figure, over 1.1 million, including more than 26,000 foreigners, travelled to Phu Quoc, a year-on-year increase of 33.9%.
As many as 1,282 foreign vacationers from the Republic of Korea, Laos, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Thailand have arrived in Phu Quoc using “vaccine passports” since the scheme started its pilot in Vietnam last November.
Now with the full reopening, the island expects to see even more visitors. On March 19, it welcomed the first inbound flight, carrying 235 tourists from Kazakhstan who stayed for a week, after all travel restrictions were lifted.
Le Trung Truc, a manager at Sunset Sanato Resort and Villas in Phu Quoc, said the occupancy rate hit 95% on the first week after the reopening. During the weekend from March 18 – 20, the resort was fully booked, he said.
Director of the Kien Giang Department of Tourism Bui Quoc Thai also attributed the spikes in tourist arrivals to the province's high vaccination rate, saying it has paved the way for the recovery of the tourism activities.
Nonetheless, the tourism rebound is clouded by a lack of manpower as a large number of tourism workers have been forced to leave their jobs and return home due to months-long COVID-19 shutdown.
The occupancy rate reached 65% on the first week at Kim Hoa Resort, manager Bui Ang Van said, but the problem now is labour shortage after COVID-19. He unveiled that the resort has been able to fill just 50% of the positions compared to the pre-pandemic level so far.
More policies need to be added to support the development and standardization of the tourism workforce, Van suggested, adding that the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs should set the scene for vocational schools to cooperate with local authorities and businesses to open short-term training courses to share experience and enhance capacity for tourism workers.
This year, the province eyes to serve about 5.6 million visitors, including 200,000 foreigners.