Phu Quoc is an island district belonging to the Mekong Delta’s Kien Giang province, covering nearly 600 sq km, or roughly the size of Singapore. On an area of 580 sq km, Phu Quoc Island is the largest of the 22 islets in the district.

“Pearl Island”, as it’s also known, is a “hot” tourism destination. It welcomed just 300,000 visitors in 2010, but numbers rose to 1 million in 2015 and over 4 million in 2019. The tourism boom has led to rapid socio-economic development, especially in regard to urban infrastructure.

With infrastructure in place, Phu Quoc Island was recognised as a second-class city in 2014. Being a district directly under the province, however, has hindered its progress.

Phu Quoc currently has some 300 investment projects, primarily in tourism and services, which accounts for 70 percent of the district’s GDP. At the same time, up to 70 percent of the district’s population, which currently stands at 147,000 people, are working in non-agricultural sectors.

The level of investment is already too high, however, resulting in issues regarding project management and supervision, land acquisition, site clearance and compensation, and land management, among others, while district management is overburdened.

According to analysts, promoting Phu Quoc into a city would create the necessary conditions for the island to fully tap into its potential to develop.

Kien Giang province is urgently completing procedures with the central government for it to consider recognising Phu Quoc as a city. It is expected that this will indeed happen by the end of the year./.