Phu Quoc starts vaccinating islanders ahead of foreign tourist reopening

 Phu Quoc starts vaccinating islanders ahead of foreign tourist reopening

A resort on Phu Quoc Island in Kien Giang Province. Photo by Shutterstock/Danny Tran.

Authorities in Mekong Delta province Kien Giang plan to commence Covid-19 vaccination for Phu Quoc residents from Thursday as the island prepares to welcome back foreign tourists.

Under the vaccination rollout plan in Phu Quoc approved by provincial authorities, over 127,000 people on the island, including 60,000 employees of tourist and entertainment facilities that have been chosen for the pilot vaccine passport program, will be prioritized for Covid vaccination to prepare for its international reopening plan.

They would receive their first shots starting Thursday, with the second to be administered in September.

Phu Quoc is planning to trial a six-month vaccine passport program starting October, welcoming 40,000 foreign tourists back to the island.

Some of Vietnam's major tourism markets with high Covid-19 vaccine coverage that could be considered for international reopening include China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, the U.S., Germany, Russia, the U.K. and France.

Phu Quoc, Vietnam's largest island, has become a top tourist destination since 2014 when the government began to allow foreigners visa-free entry for 30 days. Tourism is the mainstay of its economy, but last year the number of international tourists fell by 76.1 percent.

Vietnam closed its borders and canceled all international flights in March the same year.

The entire Kien Giang Province entered a 17-day social distancing campaign from Wednesday, with suspension of social events, gatherings of 20 people or more in one place and of 10 people or more outside workplaces, schools and hospitals banned.

It also ordered the closure of all tourist destinations and historical sites.

Kien Giang has recorded 18 infections during the ongoing wave that hit the country in late April.

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