Renowned food culture helps promote Vietnamese tourism

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HÀ NỘI As part of the Government’s cultural development strategy, Việt Nam aims to have three cities in the UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network across many fields, including cuisine, by 2030.

In addition, the Government plans to boost the use of Vietnamese food in cultural tourism over the next decade, helping revive an industry badly affected by the pandemic. A few Vietnamese dishes have already made a mark on the global cuisine scene.

Phở is considered one of the most typical dishes of Vietnamese people.

In addition to the traditional phở with broth, there are also vegetarian, rolled, fried and crispy phở versions, which suit the tastes of most diners, including those from overseas.

Since 2018, December 12 has been observed as the Day of Phở to honour Vietnamese cuisine both at home and abroad.

This year, the Hồ Chí Minh City Department of Tourism and Google Việt Nam coordinated to respond to Phở Day with the message “Get up early to eat phở with the city”. This is to widely promote phở to the public.

On the Day of Phở, Google Doodle also presented an illustration of the noodle soup in Việt Nam and 16 other countries, including Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Lithuania, Poland, Thailand, the UK, and the US.

Doodle Phở promotion campaign with the participation of Miss Universe Việt Nam H’Hen Nie (right) and many other celebrities. VNA/VNS Photo Mỹ Phương

The description of the doodle said: “What makes phở distinct is a mindful cooking process to achieve multi-layered flavours and a clear broth. From ingredients like roasted ginger, fennel seed, star anise, and cinnamon for the simmered stock, the broth serves as the foundation for aromas and tastes for every palate.”

Following the honouring of bánh mì (baguette) in 2020, the Day of Phở continues to be a practical activity launched by Google to widely promote Vietnamese culture, cuisine, and tourism to the world.

According to Nguyễn Quốc Kỳ, chairman of the Việt Nam Cuisine Culture Association (VCCA), compared to a few years ago, Phở Day has grown to a new height. It is thanks to the initiative of the Tuổi trẻ (Youth) newspaper and the support of many units, artisans, and phở lovers across the country that have helped this dish make an important mark on the culinary map of the region and the world.

It’s noteworthy that the Vietnamese word “phở” was officially added to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary in September 2007. Two other Vietnamese words added to the prestigious dictionary are “banh mi” (Vietnamese baguette) and “ao dai” (Vietnamese national costume), which bring pride to the Vietnamese language.

The attraction of Vietnamese cuisine

Vietnamese dishes win the hearts of people all over the world because of their balance of taste and nutrition, lots of green vegetables and each dish has its own dipping sauce depending on the region.

Many world-class chefs such as British chef Gordon Ramsay, the late American chef Anthony Bourdain and New Zealand chef Bobby Chinn also loved and promoted Vietnamese dishes.

Most notably, a picture of the then US President Barack Obama eating bún chả (fresh vermicelli with grilled pork) during his official visit to Hà Nội in 2016 went viral on social media, making a big push for Vietnamese cuisine. Many international tourists have chosen to try this dish as soon as they arrive in Việt Nam.

The then US President Barack Obama (left) and American chef Anthony Bourdain (right) eating ‘bún chả’ (vermicelli with grilled pork) during his State visit to Hà Nội in 2016 — Photo courtesy of the White House

By October 5, Việt Nam had had five culinary world records recognised by the World Records Union (WorldKings), including owning the most “strand and broth” dishes, the most kinds of mắm (fermented fish) and dishes made from mắm with unique flavours, the most different kinds of special roll, the most dishes made from flowers, and the most dishes made from rice flour globally.

Contribute to tourism promotion

The Chairman of the Việt Nam National Administration of Tourism, Nguyễn Trùng Khánh, said that Việt Nam’s cultural heritage and cuisine have played a positive role as a tourism ambassador, contributing to attracting millions of international tourists to the country.

In Southeast Asia, Việt Nam is one of the countries that owns the most UNESCO World Heritage titles, Khánh noted.

Not only foreigners but also domestic tourists love food tourism. Therefore, local travel agencies are focusing on creating products that bring the most authentic experiences to visitors such as traditional food festivals, cooking classes and food tours, to help travellers fully discover Vietnamese delicacies.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism recently approved a project aimed at building a national brand on cultural tourism, with the ultimate goal of further developing the value of cultural heritage and cuisine, as well as improving the economic efficiency and competitiveness of tourism.

The project aims to position the Vietnamese cultural tourism brand based on Việt Nam’s unique cultural values, focusing on heritage and cuisine, thereby forming a system of typical tourist destinations and products, which have high quality and value.

By 2030 cultural tourism is anticipated to account for 20 to 25 per cent of the total US$130 billion in total revenue earned from tourism services. Businesses are encouraged to invest in developing cultural tourism, especially cultural heritage and cuisine. VNS

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