Flight Battles Between Sihanoukville and Phu Quoc

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General Mackevili
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Flight Battles Between Sihanoukville and Phu Quoc

Post by General Mackevili »

Competition between Sihanoukville and the Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc for a share of the fattening tourism pie is set to intensify, analysts say, with Vietnam Airlines and the Vietnamese government this week announcing a concerted effort to direct tourists to the island.

In a statement issued June 14, Vietnam Airlines announced it will commence operating direct flights three times per week between Siem Reap and Phu Quoc from November 1.

“The next year, increasing the frequency of the above routes will be based on market conditions,” the statement said, adding that the island destination is a key focus of Vietnam’s tourism strategy.

The company did not detail how much a one-way or return ticket would cost for the new route.

Vietnam Airlines’ new flights stand to further enhance Vietnam Airlines' hold over Cambodia’s aviation market, with the firm already owning a 49 per cent stake in the Kingdom’s only domestic airline, Cambodia Angkor Air.

Phu Quoc Airport, which began welcoming domestic flights in December after a four-year construction period, is located some 50 kilometers from Sihanoukville.

The island is also the only destination in Vietnam that does not require tourists to have a visa.
In response to Vietnam Airlines’ announcement, Brendan Sobie, chief analyst and Singapore representative at the Australian-based Centre for Aviation (CAPA) said the new connectivity could detract tourists from Cambodia’s own coastal hot spot, Sihanoukville.

“Cambodia has been keen to attract more regular domestic services at Sihanoukville as well as international services as part of an effort to boost its tourism sector and attract Siem Reap visitors to stay in Cambodia rather than hop over to Thailand or Vietnam,” he said.

“Vietnam Airlines' investment in a Phu Quoc-Siem Reap link, rather than a new route at Sihanoukville through its Cambodian joint venture may end up ruffling feathers. But the reality is Sihanoukville has even bigger infrastructure challenges than Phu Quoc.”

Sihanoukville Airport is slated for renovation along with the country’s two other major airports in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. But construction has yet to begin and air passenger numbers remain sluggish in the coastal town.

In 2013, a total of 20,000 passengers flew between Siem Reap and Sihanoukville airports, according to Cambodia Airports data. That figure is on the rise with the coastal airport already welcoming more than 24,000 visitors to June this year – a increase of 146 per cent on the same period last year.

But Sihanoukville’s recent gains remain dwarfed by its Vietnamese island neighbour. According to Vietnam Airlines’ June 14 statement, more than 700,000 domestic Vietnamese passengers arrived and departed through Phu Quoc Airport during 2013. So far this year, more than 449,000 have travelled through the new port entry.

Norinda Khek, spokesman for Cambodia Airports said competition is common in the aviation sector, especially when it comes to similar tourism destinations, and admitted that action is needed to ensure Sihanoukville’s future tourism trade.

“It is therefore up to all stakeholders of the Cambodian tourism industry and the royal government to step up efforts in making Sihanoukville an attractive destination out of its huge untapped opportunities," he said.

The spokesman’s call for more private and public sector attention on Sihanoukville was hailed by Ho Vandy, co-chair of the Private-Public Tourism Sector Working Group.

Vandy called on the government to consider introducing a visa-free policy similar to Vietnam, and provide incentives to the tourism and aviation sector to invest in Sihanoukville’s infrastructure development.

“If our government is smart, they would think about this,” he said, adding that members of the commercial tourism sector had previously recommended scrapping compulsory visas for all tourists travelling to Cambodia.

“The Vietnamese government was smart to introduce a visa-free zone. We would also like to see new plans, marketing, promotion and policy to help the private sector and to foster new planning and development to attract the tourists from Siem Reap.”

On the same day as the airline’s announcement, Vietnam’s Transport Minister, Dinh La Thang, called on the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) to meet with the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation of Cambodia (CAC) to discuss new flight routes expediting travel from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh and then onto Phu Quoc.

According to Thang, Vietnam stands to save $300 million in fuel costs per year if the CAC and the Lao government agree to allow Vietnamese airlines to fly directly through both countries’ airspace en route to southern tourist destinations, rather than taking the loner route around within Vietnamese airspace.

“We are planning to negotiate with Lao and Cambodian agencies on reducing the transit fees this August so we can design a nonstop Hanoi-HCM City route,” he was quoted as saying in Vietnamese media reports.

Kao Sivorn, director general of operations for the CAC, confirmed the meeting and that Cambodia could capitalise off such a route change.

“Cambodian air space.....


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giblet
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Re: Flight Battles Between Sihanoukville and Phu Quoc

Post by giblet »

The last time I checked (this was a while ago) Phu Quoc still required a visa, but Ha Tien didn't. Anyone know anything more about this?
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Re: Flight Battles Between Sihanoukville and Phu Quoc

Post by Sailorman »

Until Vietnam Air and its surrogate Angkor Air lose their strangle hold on the flights and/or the powers that be in Cambodia that are run by the Vietnamese government either loose office or defy their Vietnamese masters , Snooky will be an also ran in the tourist industry. Air Asia about a year and a half ago wanted to do flights into Snooky, but the powers that be (HE) made the "fees" so high they gave up. Now Cambodia Air is being blocked.

If the Chinese government backed Koh Pous island Billion dollar project starts, it will be interesting to see how they propose to get the affluent tourists to Snooky because they ain't going to ride 4+ hours on the Death Highway To Hell.

The Vietnamese government wants to pay for their new airport on Pho Quoc Island at the expense of Cambodia and Snooky. It will be interesting to see how long the powers that be can hold off new airlines from flying into Snooky for their Veitnamese masters.

Think of this: Snooky is the only city in Southeast Asia that you can walk out the back of a casino onto a white sand beach. You can't do it at the mega Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, or on Ko Samui, or in Vietnam. People in Singapore have to pay over $100.us just to gamble at Marina Bay Sands. They could get off work on fri. , fly to Snooky, gamble/party Fri night, lay on the beach Sat, gamble/party Sat night and fly back to Singpore on Sunday. Tiger Air is under $200. RT PP/Singapore, what would the price be Singapore/Snooky RT.
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Re: Flight Battles Between Sihanoukville and Phu Quoc

Post by Anchor Moy »

giblet wrote:The last time I checked (this was a while ago) Phu Quoc still required a visa, but Ha Tien didn't. Anyone know anything more about this?
A couple of years back they introduced a Special Economic Zone at Ha Tien and you could go through the border there without a visa and spend 15 days in Vietnam if you didn't leave the "zone". At the time, we went through the border, paid $5 for our non-visa after a lot of "negociation", and then went to Phu Quoc for a week and came back. I'm not even sure that we were allowed to go to PQ but no questions were asked. From what I heard, the no visa SEZ didn't last long and things are back to normal ie. you need a proper visa now. The guys at the vietnamese side were not very happy about us crossing the border with no visa - hence the $5 bakshish.
This was 2-3 years ago and i haven't been back since, so maybe someone else has more recent info on this.
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Re: Flight Battles Between Sihanoukville and Phu Quoc

Post by giblet »

Anchor Moy wrote: A couple of years back they introduced a Special Economic Zone at Ha Tien and you could go through the border there without a visa and spend 15 days in Vietnam if you didn't leave the "zone". At the time, we went through the border, paid $5 for our non-visa after a lot of "negociation", and then went to Phu Quoc for a week and came back. I'm not even sure that we were allowed to go to PQ but no questions were asked. From what I heard, the no visa SEZ didn't last long and things are back to normal ie. you need a proper visa now. The guys at the vietnamese side were not very happy about us crossing the border with no visa - hence the $5 bakshish.
This was 2-3 years ago and i haven't been back since, so maybe someone else has more recent info on this.
That was my experience too (although I didn't cave and pay the $5 ;) ). My understanding is that you were not allowed to go to Phu Quoc on that visa, anyway. So I wonder what they mean when they say that Phu Quoc is visa-free.
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Re: Flight Battles Between Sihanoukville and Phu Quoc

Post by JBTrain »

Changed recently for international arrivals by air or cruise ships only. Regular arrivals by boat from Ha Tien or Rach Gia still require a visa.
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Re: Flight Battles Between Sihanoukville and Phu Quoc

Post by Jo Bold »

The 15 days visa for Phu Quoc exists for some years now.
It aimes to people that enter Phu Quoc from outside Vietnam. So before the international airport opened last year, it affected only (Cruise-) Ships.
If your international flight arrives in Hanoi or Saigon and you have an ongoing flight to Phu Quoc, you and youre luggage will be separated and you have to go threw immigrations at Phu Quoc.
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Re: Flight Battles Between Sihanoukville and Phu Quoc

Post by King Keil »

Russians and swedes that i talked to get 30 days stamped into there passport, guess there are some other nations. I don´t see a regular tourist that wants to go snooky instead of phu quoc. Snooky will stay a place for backpackers, very few rich khmer/chinese for gambling ( havent seen them on the beach ) and old retirees.
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Re: Flight Battles Between Sihanoukville and Phu Quoc

Post by Sailorman »

Cruise the internet and type in "Interstate Hotels and Resorts" (American Company) and "Koh Pous Island." This one Billion dollar project is funded and backed by the Chinese government (who own Interstate H &R) and could be a game changer. It could break the Vietnamese strangle hold on the Snooky Airport, force the police to clean up the town and bring in gamblers from China, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, etc. (by air)

Why do you think Naga World is buying three more Airbus jets? (it already has one flying to China.) Its because the Chinese are getting disposable income and want to gamble. If they can gamble, stay at a 4, 5 or 6 star hotel and lay on a beach, all the better.

Everyone has heard it before that snooky is about to break out, but to my knowledge this is the first big project that isn't a money laundering scam and has the backing of a world power/government. Yes, this should be interesting.
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