No visas for visitors as Vietnam island woos investors

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Investors in any sector on tourism-haven Phu Quoc Island will enjoy favorable policies previously granted by a 2008 government decree only to projects at industrial zones, export processing zones and economic zones.

The move comes as part of a new decision signed by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on December 27 to support local authorities' plan to transform the island into a major economic zone.

Accordingly, foreigners who visit Phu Quoc Island for up to 30 days will enjoy visa exemptions, thanks to the decision that will take effect on March 10.

Visa waivers will also be implemented for foreigners who transit at any airport or seaport in Vietnam on their way to Phu Quoc, according to the decision that was posted on the government website Monday.

In line with the new decision and the older decree, the island will get a north-south highway and many more roads, as well as upgrades to its current airport and seaport and other projects between 2014-1015.

These projects will use investment from the local budget, the state exchequer and other sources.

Preferential policies will also be applied for investors in waste treatment systems, hospitals, commercial centers, human resource training and duty-free sections at the Phu Quoc International Airport.

Following a decision signed by PM Nguyen Tan Dung in May, the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang will establish the Phu Quoc administrative economic zone, which is expected to open in 2020.

The province finished the draft plan for the project in late July, Van Ha Phong, an official from Phu Quoc Town, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper recently.

Phong added that officials were also working on a plan to upgrade the island town into the capital city of Kien Giang Province by 2015.

According to the draft plan, the Phu Quoc economic zone will contain the entire island along with its continental shelf on the south-west side, which belongs to Vietnam, according to international conventions.

It will be an administrative unit at the same level as a city directly under the central government with ten wards and communes.

An undersea electric cable from Kien Giang's Ha Tien town to Phu Quoc Island is scheduled for completion in 2014 to provide electricity to the island, where diesel generators now supply much of the power.

Phu Quoc is a UNESCO-recognized World Biosphere Reserve off Vietnam's southeastern coast. As a district of Kien Giang Province, it has a total area of 574 square kilometers (222 square miles) and a permanent population of approximately 85,000.

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