Vietnam OKs Island Casino

Vietnam’s largest island, Phu Quoc, is developing rapidly, and the government says a resort-scale casino is just the thing to keep the momentum going. With upwards of 3 million tourists expected in the next five years, local officials are busy vetting prospective developers.

New reports out of Vietnam say the ruling Communist Party’s Politburo has approved the inclusion of a resort casino as part of the economic development of the country’s largest island.

The newspaper Tien Phong says Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung believes in Phu Quoc’s potential as a tourism and trade hub, and the local People’s Committee Chairman Le Van Thi says negotiations are under way to select suitable casino developers.

“Many investors have filed applications, but we have not made a final decision,” he said. “We expect the investor to have a track record and ability to draw the region’s top gamblers.”

Located in the Mekong Delta in Kien Giang Province in the south of the country, Phu Quoc is reported to have one of the best beaches in Vietnam and last year welcomed 430,000 tourists, a 32 percent increase over 2010, and generated receipts of US$42.7 million. The island has enjoyed average economic growth of 25 percent a year over the last decade, and infrastructure has progressed rapidly to accommodate it. More than 200 development projects have been approved for the island, representing VND135 trillion in investment (US$63 million), according to the provincial government.

Thirty-day visa-free access for foreigners was instituted earlier this year, and projections are the island will welcome 2 million-3 million tourists by 2020, 40 percent of them from overseas. Expectations are the island at that point will be grossing more than $770 million a year from hospitality and related services.