Taste of Vietnam: Experts urge promotion of food tourism

11:29 | 15/06/2018 Travel

(VEN) - Vietnamese food is distinct and unforgettable. The cuisine relies on a balance of salty, sweet, sour and hot flavors, achieved through use of nuoc mam, a fermented fish sauce, cane sugar, the juice of kalamansi citrus fruit or tamarind, and chili peppers. Dishes use plenty of fresh herbs but tend not to be overly spicy, as chili sauces are served separately. World travel experts are now urging Vietnam to capitalize on these tasty advantages to lure additional tourists.

experts urge promotion of food tourism
Several years ago, Professor Philip Kotler, a world leading marketing expert, suggested branding Vietnam as a “kitchen of the world” to attract tourists

Rich, sophisticated foods

At a recent workshop entitled “Conservation and Development of Traditional Vietnamese Cuisine”, in the framework of the Vietnam International Tourism Fair - VITM Hanoi 2018, participants suggested promoting gastronomic tourism.

Data compiled by the World Food Travel Association (WFTA) show that 25 percent of tourists are interested in culinary tours. The second global report on food tourism says 87 and 82 percent of the surveyed organizations identified food tourism as a strategic factor in picking a destination and cuisine as an important driving force for tourism development and a catalyst for the local economy.

Cooperation needed

Several years ago, Professor Philip Kotler, a world leading marketing expert, suggested branding Vietnam as a “kitchen of the world” to attract tourists.

Although awareness of food tourism has grown, it remains less developed than in many other countries. Experts say apart from efforts by private enterprises, restaurants and associations, efforts by the state, local governments and other sectors are crucial to turn Vietnam into a world kitchen.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Vuong Xuan Tinh suggested that the country revise its master plan on tourism development to 2020, with a vision 2030, and prepare for a new strategy that involves developing food tourism.

Vuong Xuan Tinh, Deputy President of the Vietnam Association of Ethnology and Anthropology, said the plan for tourism development to 2020 and 2025 with a vision to 2030 calls for developing food tourism, and this development needs cooperation between ministries, sectors and authorities at all levels.

Vu The Binh, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Tourism Association, says Vietnam should not only be interested in dishes, drinks, restaurants and fairs but also pay heed to the origin of food, its preparation, and cuisine-related historical, ritual and behavior features.

There are essential Vietnamese foods everyone should try. Sink your teeth into a banh mi, a crusty baguette sandwich filled with greens and a choice of fillings (including paste and freshly made omelet), or sample a banh xeo pancake containing shrimp, pork, bean sprouts and egg, which is fried, wrapped in rice paper and dunked in a spicy sauce. Taste the ubiquitous bun cha specialty of the capital Hanoi - noodles served with baked pork - and slurp some pho (noodle soup). Follow it up with cao lau - a mouthwatering bowlful of thick rice-flour noodles, bean sprouts and pork-rind croutons in a light soup flavored with mint and star anise, topped with thin slices of pork and served with grilled rice-flour crackers or sprinkled with crispy rice paper. And don’t forget the nem spring rolls filled with pork, sprouts and mints.

Associate Professor Dang Van Bai, Deputy President of the National Council on Cultural Heritage, said the nation’s special culinary heritage should be incorporated into its cultural institutions to promote culinary values and sustainable tourism development.

Thanh Tam