Festival Huế aims to attract more young people, international visitors

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After many delays due to the pandemic, Huế Festival will return between June 25 and 30 this year with a variety of interesting activities.

This is the first time the biennial festival has been organised throughout the year with activities spread over four seasons, the highlight of which is the cultural festival at the end of June.

Lê Hương chats with Nguyễn Văn Phúc, director of Thừa Thiên-Huế Province’s Tourism Department, on the upcoming Huế Festival 2022.

Nguyễn Văn Phúc, director of Thừa Thiên-Huế Province’s Tourism Department. — VNS Photo Lê Hương

Could you tell me what the local tourism sector expects from this new form of festival, which will spread throughout the year?

This festival will be a four-season occasion with a series of activities and events in every month of the year, the highlight of which will be the festival week at the end of June. We will be hosting events and in case of an emergency, there will be other activities at other times of the year. So the festival will not be stopped for a long time.

As we have organised events monthly, we offer tourists and the community more chances to get close to and explore the festive activities, rather than only visiting Huế for a week to attend the events. Instead, tourists can plan to visit Huế any time in the year. We hope to avoid the pressure caused by too many tourists flocking to Huế in a short time and draw more visitors to the province throughout the year. We hope to receive more domestic guests of all ages.

We can see from the schedule this year that the department has cooperated very closely with enterprises to host the festival. There are also new activities like promoting brand names and co-organising media trips. Could you tell me more about the combination of private and public sectors at this festival?

The tourism sector must work together with various agencies, especially enterprises specialising in tourism services. We have called for the active participation of enterprises to sponsor activities. To the State agencies, this will help ease the tension due to budget constraints. For enterprises, this will create more chances for them to join in social works and to develop in other business fields. They will be more confident to join in other upcoming investment projects in the province.

In the recent conference on culture, the Party General Secretary Nguyễn Phú Trọng called for more contribution of the culture sector in the national economic development. A concrete purpose was set out that by 2030, the culture, tourism and sports sector should contribute 7 per cent to the GDP. How has the local culture and tourism sector worked for that purpose?

Our province and other localities have issued policies to preserve traditional culture and promote tourism along with socio-economic development. We have a master plan to preserve cultural heritage and develop tourism in combination with the common development plan for the province.

Before, each sector had a different plan. Now we have a general master plan for all fields. The master plan helps us to have a clear direction and a uniform connection between agencies. For example, all agencies can join in preserving cultural heritage, bringing into full play the value of the heritage, and developing tourism.

We have invested in infrastructure and traffic facilities, and upgraded urban areas over the past two years like pedestrian zones and roads inside Huế Citadel and along the river. We have projects invested by the province and the State like roads along the coastline or bridges crossing the sea to ease traffic connections between provinces such as the Cam Lộ Highway project.

In cultural heritage preservation, we have implemented a project to upgrade Thái Hòa Palace, Thái Miếu, Kiến Trung Palace and especially a project to move houses away from the former inner citadel area. These projects have been cared much and invested much by both the State and local authorities for the common purpose to preserve and bring into full play cultural heritage values and develop tourism.

A balloon festival will also feature at Huế Festival 2022. — VNS Photo Lê Huy Hoàng Hải

Could you tell me more about the foreign performers that will join the festival?

This year, the number of foreign troupes is not as many as in the previous festivals. Most of them are from neighbouring countries and our main partners like Sri Lanka, France, Thailand, Laos, South Korea and Japan.

It’s a pity that due to the tension in the world, traffic is not as smooth as before. Many troupes cannot arrive. But they still commit to following Huế Festival and sharing information. They will join us next year. In the next year, we will host a festival on traditional handicrafts. In 2024, we hope to receive more foreign troupes to the Huế Festival.

This is the first time that a Media Trip has been organised with travel bloggers and key opinion leaders (KOLs). Do you want to make the festival more appealing to younger audiences?

Yes, we have two purposes. First, we want to create a new image for Huế, as not only a former citadel with profound culture and ancient architecture but as a city with many changes and developments, preserving the old and bringing into full play the values of cultural heritage.

Through travel bloggers and KOLs, we hope to lure more young people to Huế to experience the many beautiful places, interesting tourism products and cultural life of locals. Our province has actively developed community-based tourism, and special check-in places created for young people.

We also want to lure more international audiences to Huế Festival as the bloggers and KOLs have many followers from the international community. — VNS

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