China Southern Airlines plans to begin a direct service between Guangzhou in China and Vietnam’s resort island of Phu Quoc in January.
Huynh Quang Hung, vice chairman of the island district in the southern province of Kien Giang, told Thoi bao Kinh te Saigon Online newspaper that airline officials visited the island recently and “said Phu Quoc’s cuisine and environment are ideal for Chinese tourists who love seafood and going to the beach all year round.”
He said there would be three flights a week in either direction.
The country’s biggest island is nearly 600 square kilometers -- equal to the size of Singapore -- with a population of 103,000. The government waives visas for foreigners visiting the island for up to 30 days.
Phu Quoc Airport received its first international flights in January 2014 when a Vietnamese tourism company brought in charter flights from Russia.
But they were suspended this year after the devaluation of the ruble affected travel demand.
Vietnam Airlines launched direct flights from the island to Singapore in November 2014 and to Cambodia’s Siem Reap in December.
Otherwise, travelers have to fly in from either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City.
Hung said 750,000 tourists have visited the island this year, 30 percent of them foreigners.
The number is up 44 percent year-on-year, and authorities expect another 150,000 to come this year.
Hung said there has been huge investment in tourism -- VND160 trillion (US$7.17 billion) so far -- with a casino, cable cars and a 500-hectare zoo coming up.
Hotels are being built to prepare for up to three million visitors a year by 2020, he said.