Foreign tourists at Phu Quoc Airport /FILE PHOTO
Although Phu Quoc Island in the Mekong Delta Province of Kien Giang is attracting more visitors, its tourism industry is struggling due to sluggish hotel projects.
A report on Thoi bao Kinh te Saigon Online (Saigon Times) quoted Le Minh Hoang, director of Kien Giang Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, as saying that tourism and hotel projects on the island are making "very slow" progress.
He said there are some 170 tourism and hotel projects, accounting for two-thirds of the total investment projects on the island located some 62 sea miles off the province's capital town Rach Gia.
However, only 23 of the projects have gotten underway mainly small to medium-sized hotels with less than 160 rooms.
Many big projects to build hotels of 1,000 rooms have yet to be launched or so far have only completed site clearance procedures, according to Hoang.
The lethargy, the official explained, was caused by the current difficult economic situation and the island's incomplete infrastructure a thoroughfare and many other important roads, for instance, are still under construction.
Hoang said given the situation of the Vietnamese economy and Phu Quoc's infrastructure, big projects will not get underway until 2015.
It means that Phu Quoc, which has attracted 474,000 tourists since the beginning of this year, will continue to suffer from a lack of hotel rooms, because small projects will add only 500-700 rooms each, he said.
Achieving an annual growth rate of 17-20 percent in tourism compared to Kien Giang's 12 percent, the island now has some 2,900 hotel rooms, and 82 percent of them are fully equipped to serve tourists, according to the news report.
The shortage of hotels and unappealing tourism services has also discouraged international airlines from operating direct flights to Phu Quoc, said Ho Quoc Cuong, head of the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam's Air Transport Department, according to news website Dat Viet (Vietnamese land).
Cuong said they have invited foreign airlines to open direct flights to the island, but so far none of them have agreed, even though they are interested in doing so, as Phu Quoc Airport has been upgraded to meet international standards.
With a total investment of VND3 trillion, the airport was inaugurated last December with a runway that is three kilometers long and 45 meters wide.
Its capacity is designed to host five Boeing 747 or eight Airbus A321 aircrafts, Dat Viet reported.
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