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30/06/2020 - 21:04

The impression of Hue through the image of ao dai on Truong Tien Bridge

For the last twenty years, Philipp Van Den Borch, a well-known Belgian tour leader, has organized for a round 10 tours to Vietnam and Hue a year. Hue is the impressive destination to this tour leader, especially he is fond of the image of high school girls in ao dai after the school on Truong Tien Bridge.

Philipp Van Den Borch said that in addition to ao dai, Hue had many qualities that Belgian tourists liked, but Hue has not been much known to Belgian so far.

Philipp Van Den Borch

What do you think about Hue tourism?

The traditional culture, the history and the position of a former Imperialism capital of Vietnam are among the outstanding attractions that urge us to take tourists to Hue.

The population density has been increased and the pace of life is now much more vibrant than it used to. Despite the development speed, one thing that Hue is doing well is that many sites, especially the Citadel, has not been affected by the urbanization. The scene has been preserved and green trees planted, making the atmosphere clean and fresh. Traditional culture has been preserved and promoted well. You should keep doing these.

Tourist services are also better; for example, Hue folk song performances on the Huong river have better quality than they were. Royal foods are served more formally.

Tourist staff has been more professional than they were 15 or 20 years ago. Local people know how to do tourism by showing their smiling charm and hospitality to please the visitors [laugh].

Most importantly, the heritage system has been restored and embellished. During the first years I took visitors here, most of the heritage system was the remain and was not restored. But every time I take visitors to Hue, I witness a certain restoration work. It is a sustainable trend of development based on traditions of Hue, which is hardly found anywhere else.

According to Philipp Van Den Borch, the ao dai of Hue will attract visitors

Is Hue a destination in Belgian visitors’ bucket list?

Hue takes an irreplaceable position in Belgian visitors’ trans-Vietnam exploring journey. As I mentioned, Belgian visitors enjoy exploring culture, life style and people at the destination. And, they feel happy as their needs are satisfied.

It is not the mere culture. It is evident through the COVID-19 pandemic that your country has well controlled the disease widespread. You have shown the world that Vietnam is a place that is safe, culturally rich and hospitable. In deed, there is one word I can say about Hue: superb.

We should have been able to organize more than 10 tours to Hue in 2020 without the pandemic. Due to the pandemic, we have cancelled almost all tours. Despite this, the number of booked tours remains stable for the next year of 2021. We are sure that we will take more visitors to Hue in the future.

What are the drawbacks that Hue needs to adjust to attract more Belgian visitors?

Visitors in a packaged tour to Vietnam often choose a trans-Vietnam tour with an itinerary of 15 days through 10 destinations. This means that they will stay one or two days per destination. Hue is a one-day destination during this tour.

Hue is rich in cultural identity of Vietnam, and it has many historical sites. This is a strength that the city needs to take advantage in order to provide more meaningful services and cultural experiences. If so, Hue will become a two-day stop during the tour.

Hue is less known to Belgian visitors than Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi. They rarely give priority to Hue in their travel itinerary, but once they have been to Hue, they feel regretful that they spend too short time exploring the city.

Therefore, more promotion of Hue as a destination should be provided. More images of Hue, where the last Dynasty in Vietnam ruled, should frequently appear in Belgium.

Hue has good security system. I have ever gone out late at night and felt secure. At the tourist sites, the security is assured and there is no theft. This should be known to visitors to make them confident to choose Hue.

Not all destinations are reliable, so the safer a destination is, the more visitors it attracts.

Ao dai – the distinctive cultural feature of Hue. Photo: Dang Tuyen

What makes you most impressive of Hue?

On my first arrival in Hue, I happened to see a group of high school girls in white ao dai cycling on Truong Tien Bridge. It was my most impressive and unforgettable image. Later, when I take visitors to Hue, I always take time to go there and behold this poetic and unique image.

I know it is your national costume, and it is so charming to wear traditional costumes every day. In some countries, they are only worn in festivals or big events. 

I think wearing traditional costumes should be considered as a unique lifestyle with Hue’s own identity. Hue should take good care of this; otherwise, it will be lost that is hardly regained. It is a cultural product manifesting local culture that attracts many tourists.

By Quang Sang

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