Protecting paradise

When I recently traveled to our brand-new Radisson Blu resort in Phu Quoc, Vietnam, it became clear to me that various stakeholders need to band together to protect this small paradise.

Phu Quoc is a beautiful island off the southwest coast of Vietnam, 50 km in length and more than half comprising Phú Qu?c National Park, which features mountains, dense tropical jungle, hiking trails and wildlife. The island is unique in that the government has granted the right to develop the tourism and gambling industry.

Phu Quoc has beautiful sandy beaches, ideal for family beach vacations, lush nature and a good number of exciting diving spots. Today the island presents a nice mix of backpacker tourism and branded hotels.

However, development is happening fast, and several impressive hotel and residential projects are ongoing or being planned. The job opportunities in tourism drive up population numbers, with many employees coming in from mainland Vietnam. This boom puts pressure on land use and natural resources.

Many good initiatives are already taking place in the hotels. In the Radisson Blu, for example, we capture rainwater and have completely banned the use of plastic straws to replace them by bamboo and grass straws. Local biodiversity initiatives such as the Phu Quoc bee farm, or the Keep Vietnam Clean & Green – or in the native language Vietnam Sach va Xanh organization – are starting to create environmental awareness.

However, more needs to be done and can only be done together with other tourism industry partners, the government, dedicated expert non-profits and transnational tourism bodies.

Actions such as mandating solar energy and rainwater capture for new hotels, promoting green building certifications for each of the new developments, bold moves such as banning all single-use plastics in hotels and resorts, going for electrified transportation, biodiversity protection, waste recycling, etc.. Putting these in place would maintain the sustainability and the attractiveness of this unique location.

So this is a call to the tourism industry to make this island an example of positive change and impact tourism can have. It’s going to take a concerted effort and won’t happen overnight, but it is certainly worth trying and can be an example for other unique but stressed destinations.

Phu Quoc, Vietnam | Getty Images
Phu Quoc, Vietnam | Getty Images