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22/08/2017 - 07:58

Attracting tourists to the Citadel Night

Any tourism product that is detached from local residents would fail. It is the local people with their lifestyles and their activities, who create attractive, sustainable vitality for tourism products...

Feelings of the "audience"

In an effort to renew monuments and make them more attractive, Hue Monuments Conservation Center(HMCC) has opened the Citadel at night time. This activity began in the last week of April, 2017 and initially attracted the special attention of visitors and the public. With this move, the monument management unit also wants to contribute to enriching Hue tourism products, to facilitate more visitors andto increase their length of stay in Hue.

Sparkling Citadel at night

However, unlike expectation, after the initial launching time, the number of the public and visitors to this new tourism product started to decrease, and visitors were no longer as eager as the beginning. Because of that, Hue Monuments Conservation Center has rearranged the operations of the Citadel Night in a more "streamlined" way. Asking some of those who experienced the Citadel Night, everyone said that the Citadel at night has ashimmering beauty; some activities also help viewers visualize some of the old court life. Experiencing once or twice is great, but after a while the "experience"can be monotonous. It is different feeling from visiting Hoi An.A half-month later after the visit, it is still excitingto come back again. What is the reason? It is because going to Hoi An, people are experiencing a "living" heritage space. In that space, there are communities of people living in the old town, doing business, and living normally. Visitors who come there are immersed in a space where they are themselves as a subject and not just an "audience" - something they always feel when going to the Citadel.

Of course, each heritage has its own feature. When the monarchy has no longer existed for more than seven decades, where can the Imperial living experience come from? "Remaking”has been a great effort which needs to be accepted and appreciated (?). That is completely understandable. However, the Citadel Night can completely enhance the attraction if it can be connected with the real life of the residents. It is a proposal that we have the opportunity to hear from some people who are always aware of the heritage, of Hue’s tourism.

The Xam Huong game at the Citadel Night Events

Where to start?

Maintainingthe Citadel Night and enhancing the quality of tourist experience can be the starting point. However, after visiting, and immersingthemselves in the sparkling night Citadel, watching and playing games, enjoying royal dances ..., heading out of Hien Nhon gate, guests should be able to experience the life of the local people. We can start with Mai Thuc Loan Street by selecting, mobilizing, and supporting some of the old homes to “light” their houses with services for tourism. It can be a culinary spot with Hue dishes. It can also be a café with the elegant music of Van Cao, Pham Duy, Trinh Cong Son ...; or tailors for the Ao Dai; galleries of paintings; Hue souvenir gifts shops.
Of course, there should be no absence of street vendors with Hue's casual night meals. On this street there is the Uncle Ho Memorial House; Phuoc Trang, the residence of former Minister for the Ministry of Justice Tran Dinh Ba, which now his descendant, a famous collector of antiques, Tran Dinh Son, has establishedinto the first private museum of ordered porcelains of theNguyen Dynasty in Hue. It will be the highlight of tourists’ visit if they are interested. Organizing and connecting with such a lively street, the night bazaar will create more sustainable energy; Hue will increase its attractiveness and "acquire" longer length of stay from visitors.

Once the selected points have formed and carried on, there needs to be no further investment or encouragement from the authorities. The surrounding households will also imitate and follow. This is not a theory. That was what happened in Hoi An. And right in Hue, the evidence is not far away, the "Western Town" Vo Thi Sau, Pham Ngu Lao, Chu Van An began from some businesses, some households who earned their income with tourism business at first. Soon, all of the neighborhoods around invested in tourism and suddenly Hue has an interesting space. Mai Thuc Loan Street, with the ancient space of one of the only street in the citadel which still remains intact, with the inhabitants of the place still living and carrying out their daily life, this street can completely become the high rank tourism street, no less than the old streetsby the Hoai River, Hoi An.

Successful tourism products cannot be separated from the lives of local people

Going out of the old Dong Ba Gate, if we rearrange Phan Dang Luu Street to open at night, and designate to a certain time just for pedestrians, visitors can experience the life of a vibrant, colorful modern Hue. In the future, when the process of clearance and embellishment on Phan Dang Luu canal shoreline is completed, it is possible to design the old roof out in harmony with the opposite moss ancient wall. Underneath, the protective wall canal will berenovated and cultivated with lotus in romantic green scenery. This is a pedestrian street with a focus on souvenirs and Hue’s specialty, assuring quality for guests to choose and purchase. Going off Phan Dang Luu Street or Phan Dang Luu canal, afterwards, once Dong Ba Market is rebuilt, guests can visit the nightly dining area here to reward themselves for a late night meal before going back to their hotels.

The owner of a travel business shared that, according to his experience, any tourism product that is detached from local residents would fail. It is the local people with their lives and activities that create an attractive, sustainable vitality for tourism products. Therefore, the Citadel Night needs to connect with the streets of Hue in the hope of creating a sustainable tourism product.

Story and photos: Hien An

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