The central province of Quang Ngai is seeking to boost tourism on Ly Son Island and has asked Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh for approval to build an international airport on the island. 30 kilometres off Vietnam’s coast, Ly Son is believed to have substantial potential as a tourist destination but can currently only be accessed by water.

Ly Son covers an area of 10 square kilometres and is one of very few volcanic islands in Vietnam, with three extinct craters dominating its landscape. While not your typical tropical island with sandy beaches and coconut palms, Ly Son attracts domestic visitors with coral reefs and crystal-clear waters, a checkerboard of rice paddies and dramatic black cliffs with spectacular vistas.

Ly Son Island as seen from one of its volcanic craters.

At present, Ly Son Island can be reached by a 30-minute fast ferry ride from Sa Ky Port on the mainland, and a direct speedboat connection from Da Nang is in the works too. The island welcomes a yearly average of 200,000 visitors – a figure which, according to the provincial authorities, doesn’t do justice to the unique beauty of the island. The province now aims to fully tap into this potential, and an international airport is instrumental for that.

Under the submitted proposal, the project would be added to Vietnam’s aviation master plan for the 2021-2030 period. If it is indeed approved and built, the airport will have a 2,400-metre runway capable of receiving only smaller, single-aisle planes, and once fully operational it will serve up to 3.5 million passengers per year.

Such tourist masses would certainly go a long way toward improving the socio-economic development of the local community, but the construction of an airport on Ly Son Island is still up in the air right now. With many existing airports reporting losses, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam has recently rejected five proposals for new airports in various locations across the country.