The Kien Giang provincial People’s Committee has submitted a master plan on sustainable development for Phu Quoc island until 2040 to Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc for approval.
The master plan focuses on marine, coastal and island development to build a comprehensive infrastructure system linked with the infrastructure of the country and Mekong Delta.
It seeks to promote sustainable development, culture, environmental protection, security, and harmonisation of economic growth with the conservation of historical and cultural relics.
Under the plan, the Phu Quoc Economic Zone will be developed into a hub for trade and tourism services to attract domestic and international visitors, a political and cultural centre and a science and technology centre.
It will prioritise the development of coastal and riverine areas and public green spaces to improve the quality of life for locals.
It will be key to creating a legal basis for the management of investment projects.
Blessed with white sand, turquoise beaches and pleasant weather almost all year round and with two-thirds of its area covered in tropical forests, Phu Quoc, nicknamed “pearl island”, is a holiday-goers’ paradise.
Once a part of Cambodia, it is also known by its Khmer name Koh Tral, which translates as “weaving shuttle island”, hinting at its spindle-like shape.
It is Vietnam’s largest island at some 590,000sq km, almost the same size as Singapore.
The Phu Quoc National Park, which has mountains, dense tropical jungle, hiking trails, and wildlife, spreads over more than half of the island.
Phu Quoc is close to most of Southeast Asia and part of international freight routes, and less than two hours by air from the capitals of many countries in the neighbourhood.
It has had an international airport since 2012, with travellers flying directly to the island enjoying a 30-day visa-free stay. International airlines operate both commercial and charter flights to the island.
Phu Quoc is set to become one of the country’s three special economic administrative zones along with Van Don in the northern province of Quang Ninh and Bac Van Phong in the south-central province of Khanh Hoa.
It received more than five million visitors last year, up 30 per cent from 2018, including 541,600 foreigners.
Phu Quoc district People’s Committee vice-chairman Pham Van Nghiep said a proposal to upgrade Phu Quoc island district into a city has received the approval of 96.28 per cent of its people.
The feedback has been submitted to the People’s Committee of Kien Giang province, where Phu Quoc is located.
Nghiep said the island held a poll on the proposed establishment of Phu Quoc island city in which almost all of its 64,263 residents voted.
They also voted for a proposal to establish Duong Dong ward (currently Duong Dong town) and An Thoi ward by merging Hon Thom commune into An Thoi town.
Last month province authorities collected public feedback on the proposal to convert the island district into a city.
The city will have a population of more than 177,500, two wards – Duong Dong and An Thoi – and six communes – Ham Ninh, Duong To, Ganh Dau, Bai Thom, Cua Duong and Cua Can.
The province will soon submit the proposal to the National Assembly for approval. If approved, Phu Quoc will become the first island city in Vietnam, Nghiep said.
It currently faces problems related to its growing population, education, healthcare, trade, tourism, and security, and becoming a city would enable Phu Quoc to address them, he said.
“The establishment of a city will play an important role in asserting the country’s sovereignty over its waters and islands.”
In 2018, the government gave the green light for the province to hire a foreign consultant to draw up a master plan to develop the island into a special administrative and economic zone.
Most large corporations such as Vingroup, Bim Group, Sun Group, CEO Group have invested in Phu Quoc, which has attracted more than $15 billion so far.
There are more than 300 projects worth over 361 trillion dong ($15.6 million), said the Kien Giang provincial People’s Committee.
Currently, there are over 600 lodgings, including hotels and resorts, with nearly 20,000 rooms on the island. It expects to have 12,000 five-star hotel rooms by the end of this year.
A master plan to develop Phu Quoc into a special administrative-economic zone offers many incentives to investors.
It will have the best mechanisms and incentives in the whole country, provincial authorities have said.
Its corporate and personal income tax rates are the lowest in the country, while land rents are waived for the first four years and cut by 50 per cent for the next nine.
It is seeking approval to offer 99-year land leases to investors.
The incentives continue to attract large investments from both local and international firms.
VIET NAM NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK