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Culinary tourism: Making highlights from differences

TTH.VN - Owning a diversified culinary background with various unique features, Thua Thien Hue has a potential to explore and develop culinary tourism. To reach effectiveness, instead of simple activities of visiting and enjoying food, the province has to pay much more attention to local-original culinary experiences.

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 Tourists experiencing making phu the cakes

Exploring strengths following the world trends

At the end of September 2023, Vietnam Cuisine Culture Association held a ceremony to honor and recognize the values of typical national dishes, through awarding certifications to 121 typical dishes in the phase 1 – 2022. On this occasion, Thua Thien Hue had 6 received the certifications of Vietnam’s typical dishes. All of them were the dishes familiar with locals and tourists, such as Bun bo Hue, tapioca dumpling stuffed with roasted pork sweet soup; mussel rice, tapioca dumplings, vegetarian fig mixed with vegetables; vegetarian steamed rice wrapped in lotus leaf.

Comparing to other localities nationwide, Hue covers the most recognized dishes. However, in terms of viewing Hue Ancient Capital as the land of culinary quintessence, this list has to have the names of many other Hue dishes.

In terms of tourism development, with unique culinary features, Thua Thien Hue can completely reach the effective development of culinary tourism from its unique highlights. According to a small survey, most tourists highly appreciated the Ancient Capital’s cuisine.

Ms. Nguyen Thi Hai Lan (a tourist from Ha Noi) shared: “Hue food is really good and diversified. Coming to Hue, you can get lost in the world of food”.

Despite being considered a relatively new and emerging form of tourism, which have been developing for around a decade, culinary tourism has quickly demonstrated its increasingly important role in the general development of the world tourism sector. According to tourism experts, culinary is identified as one of the three main reasons for travelers to choose a destination, and it is also a key factor determining the return of tourists.

Survey results from the World Tourism Organization indicate that 82% of participating organizations and localities identified culinary tourism as an important driven for tourism development (UNWTO 2017). The emergence of culinary tourism over years has been successfully developed by many nations all over the world such as France, the US, Indonesia, and Thailand, etc.

Among nearly 3.000 dishes all over the country, Hue dishes account for over 65%, comprising two main categories, including imperial cuisine and Hue’s folk cuisine. According to Mr. Nguyen Van Phuc, Director of the Tourism Sector, taking advantage of that strength, Thua Thien Hue is building up a brand name to become a culinary capital, promoting the images of Hue cuisine regionally and internationally. This effort aligns perfectly with global tourism trend.

In the framework of the recent “Connecting Hue Tourism 2023” conference, Mr. Vu Van Tuyen, Director of Travelogy Vietnam Company Limited also said that Hue tourism holds immense potential for development, in which food tour can generate various significant values.

Make more experiences

Hue cuisine is linked to heritage within heritage. Leveraging the potential of culinary, elevating existing products, and introducing many new and attractive culinary tourism products can be the way to realize the goal of developing cuisine into a special tourism product, promising to build up a potential night-time economy model. However, instead of the mere sightseeing and eating, it is necessary to pay more attention to culinary experiences.

Ms. Ngo Thi Hoan An, a tourist from Binh Duong said: “With family trips, the biggest desire is to have fun and experiences at the same time. In Hue, it will be so great if my children and I can join an activity of experiencing making special dishes under the guideline of culinary artisans or locals in traditional villages. I do believe that many tourists can get the same desire as me”.

Over time, some businesses have viewed cuisine as an integrated part of a trip, playing a role in satisfying the basic demands of travelers for food and rest. Although there are a few food-oriented tours cater to specific demands of tourists, these tours just stop at the level of providing basic introduction to some local specialties and traditional dishes.

Dealing with the aforementioned issue, in the overall planning and tourism development strategy of the province, it is necessary to explore to elevate cuisine to a form of tourism as what have been done in other destinations in the world. At the same time, new solutions to open events larger in scale than typical food fair is also needed. That can be the specialized culinary Festivals.

Furthermore, local authorities and provincial tourism sector need to carry out researches to open food streets, creating Vietnamese cuisine spaces with the imprint of the Ancient Capital. In the high-quality workforce training strategy, it is imperative to supplement the training of professional chefs, traditional artisans, and waiters in restaurants.

There are many craft villages and localities developing community-based tourism in Hue. Leveraging this foundation, it is possible to enhance the integration of tourism with craft village activities, as well as paying more attention to culinary villages. There is a need to create new tours of visiting, experiencing culinary villages, listening to the stories about the origins and the development of the products that have been inherent in local people’s lives, etc. From this, the native cultural beauty inherent in culinary products will be better and effectively spread.

Story and photo: Huu Phuc
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