HANOI – Tour guide Lai Chi Phuc has been counting down the days until travellers return to the white-sand beaches and thick tropical jungle of Vietnam’s Phu Quoc, a once-poor fishing island pushing to be Asia’s next holiday hotspot as pandemic restrictions ease.
On Saturday, around 200 South Koreans touched down on the island, which lies a few kilometres off Cambodia in the azure waters of the Gulf of Thailand, after a vaccine passport scheme kicked off this month in Vietnam.
Among the arrivals was Tae Hyeong Lee, who was returning to the island for a third time and keen to make a beeline for the beach.
“It’s wonderful to be here. This is my first time travelling out of South Korea since the pandemic started,” he told AFP.
But others may skip the lazy beach break in favour of action and entertainment as they shuffle between a 12,000-room hotel complex, an amusement park, 18-hole golf course, casino, safari park and miniature Venice.
The $2.8-billion leisure resort, part of the “sleepless city” model, opened six months ago as Covid-19 ravaged tourism across the world — and as other Asian countries reliant on the industry, like Thailand, were rethinking their mass tourism frameworks.