Photos: Ba Cuong/Thai A/David Meenaghd
Lonely Planet puts archipelago in fourth place on 2016 rankings.
Con Dao Island has found itself in fourth place on Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Asian Destinations 2016.
“The islands of Con Dao have moved from darkness into light: for decades the site of a brutal penal colony, the archipelago now ranks among Asia’s hottest emerging destinations,” Lonely Planet said. “A national park since 1984, their appeal encompasses coral gardens that offer Vietnam’s best diving, rewarding hikes in wildlife-rich tropical forests, and a coastline studded with gorgeous white-sand coves.”
With improved flight connections from Ho Chi Minh City, it added, there is no better place right now to feast on fresh seafood, search for the perfect beach, and revel in a castaway vibe.
Under the master plan to develop Con Dao Islands into a national tourism destination, by 2030 it will be an ecotourism destination with high quality services providing cultural, historical and spiritual experiences.
By 2020 the islands will welcome over 180,000 tourists and earn revenue of VND1.2 trillion ($53.79 million). By 2030 it is targeted to welcome about 300,000 tourists, including 120,000 international arrivals, and earn revenue of VND2.8 trillion ($125 million), creating jobs for over 8,000 people.
Con Dao Islands, with 16 islands on a total land area of 75.15 square kilometers, is part of southern Ba Ria-Vung Tau province. Its total water area is 14,000 square kilometers.
Mr. Nguyen Van Dung, Deputy Chairman of the Con Dao People’s Committee, said that to make the islands a tourism center and develop the marine economy the district will focus on developing sightseeing and accommodation services. In the 2015-2020 period it will develop some historic national relics, such as Con Dao Prison.
Tourism in Con Dao Islands has so far only focused on ocean trips, prison visits, shopping at local markets and cycling around the islands. Local leaders plan to diversify its tourism products and make them truly unique.
They are also planning to connect tourism on Con Dao with tourism on Phu Quoc Island.
The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) expects that by 2020 the country’s marine-based economy will contribute between 53 and 55 per cent of GDP. Marine tourism will contribute from 14 to 15 per cent of the marine-based economy. For this reason, coastal cities and provinces are selecting their own methods of development.
Con Dao is now making every effort to develop infrastructure, such as reservoirs, drainage systems, and electricity networks. To attract more investment, in 2013 the government approved mechanisms and policies with incentives in corporate income tax and personal income tax and promised smoother investment procedures.