S’pore tourism expertise sought to develop Phu Quoc
Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh has called for Singapore to assist Vietnam to zone and develop Phu Quoc Island off mainland Kien Giang Province into a high-end tourism and technology center in Southeast Asia.
Vinh told a Vietnam investment promotion forum in Singapore earlier this week that the prime ministers of Vietnam and Singapore had agreed on cooperation and favorable conditions for Singapore companies to invest in the island.
Vietnam News Agency quoted Vinh as saying at the forum that based on its expertise in tourism development, Singapore was expected to suggest incentives for investors and point out barriers to their investments which need removing so as to turn Phu Quoc into a world-class holiday hideaway.
The Government has worked out a special economic mechanism for Phu Quoc, Nguyen Thanh Nghi, vice chairman of Kien Giang Province, told Singapore investors at the forum, which attracted some 120 representatives of companies active in finance, infrastructure development, real estate, processing and other areas in the city-state.
The mechanism comprises of the most favorable policies and incentives for land rent, corporate and personal income taxes, and import tariffs among others for investors.
The Government is spending big improving transport and energy infrastructure to support investments on the biggest island of Vietnam. Nghi said that opportunities were awaiting Singapore companies to invest in eco-tourism and high-tech projects and scientific townships on a zoned area of some 4,000 hectares.
Representatives of Singapore companies said after a meeting with leaders of Kien Giang Province on the sidelines of the forum that it was good to know that a large area had been reserved for investors on Phu Quoc. According to them, Phu Quoc holds huge potential for resort and hotel development given its scenic beaches and recent heavy investments in infrastructure, including a new international airport.
Airports Corporation of Vietnam (ACV) inaugurated Phu Quoc Airport more than one year ago as one of the catalysts for Phu Quoc to become a special administrative economic zone and a world-class hub for integrated tourism and entertainment, trade, financial and banking services.
The US$145-million international airport in Duong To town has a two-storey terminal, a 3,000-meter-long, 45-meters-wide runway able to handle modern aircraft, eight taxiways, and a parking area for eight aircraft. The airport was designed to receive 2.65 million passengers by 2020 and seven million after 2030.
Currently, Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific and VietJet Air have flights to Phu Quoc Airport. ACV is collaborating with Kien Giang and the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam to attract airlines from Asia, Europe, Australia and elsewhere in the world to Phu Quoc.
Tan Soon Kim, assistant chief executive officer of International Enterprise Singapore, said that this agency would encourage Singapore investors to tap the opportunities offered by Kien Giang Province.
Tan once told the Daily that tourism and hospitality, urban solutions, consumerism and food were among the areas in Vietnam attractive to Singapore companies.
Vietnam News Agency quoted Tan as saying at the forum that investors should not miss Vietnam given its great potential, improving economic growth and strong fundamentals. He added that Singapore firms could help develop infrastructure, manufacturing, consumerism, health, education and training, telecommunications and logistics.
According to the Foreign Investment Agency, Singapore is now Vietnam’s third largest investor with more than US$30 billion registered for over 1,266 valid projects. Minister Vinh told the forum that more Singapore investors were expected to come to Vietnam.
Le Van Thi, chairman of Kien Giang Province, said Singapore companies would have an advantage to invest in Phu Quoc due to the geographical and natural similarities of the island compared to Singapore and the fact that Vietnam and Singapore had elevated their ties to a strategic partnership.
Thi told the Daily on Wednesday that a number of Singaporean investors had plans to make a field trip to Phu Quoc next week. These investors met leaders of Kien Giang early this week in Singapore.
Phu Quoc attracted more than 500,000 visitors last year, according to the province’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism. The island is looking to at least two million visitors a year in the next decade.
Since March this year, foreigners and Vietnamese nationals holding foreign passports have been exempt from an entry visa when they stay less than 30 days on Phu Quoc. The visa exemption also applies to foreigners entering Vietnam via either an international airport or an international port and then coming to Phu Quoc.