Mallorie Lane sat in a small tea shop next to the Temple of Literature, Hanoi, sipping a cup of tea and flipping through the guidebook to Hanoi. The French tourist said that Vietnam's nature in Kong: Skull Island was majestic and made a deep impression on her. She devised a detailed plan for a trip to Vietnam, but it was postponed because of Covid-19.
However, after seeing A Tourist's Guide to Love with tons of Vietnam's scenic beauty through scattered heritage from Hanoi, Quang Ninh, Hoi An, Nha Trang to HCM City, Mallorie couldn't hold back her plan any longer and immediately booked a ticket to go.
The placement of Vietnam's awe-inspiring heritage and destinations in the movies has made the hearts of tourists like Mallorie sob and move their feet. More than ever, the cinema is expected to become a launching pad to promote Vietnam's infinite beauty to the world and create momentum for domestic tourism to make a breakthrough after the pandemic.
|The Huc Bridge at Sword Lake is an architectural symbol of Hanoi. Photo: VNA|
Movies have helped countries attract tourists. Dharavi, India, suddenly saw a huge influx of tourists after Slumdog Millionaire won the Oscar. The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the series about the land of the hobbits also brought a surge in visitors to New Zealand. Even Bali (Indonesia) was forced to cut back on tourists after the impact of Julia Roberts' Eat, Pray, Love and Ticket to Paradise.
Korea has been a popular destination for wealthy Vietnamese in the past two decades, partly seduced by poetic scenes in Korean TV movies.
According to a recent survey, more than half of all Asian visitors who come to Korea find it interesting to watch Korean dramas. Dae Jang Geum boosted tourism in Korea as fans wanted to visit the places depicted in the movie.
Sa Dec City and Huynh Thuy Le Ancient House (Dong Thap), the ferry crossing the Hau River between Vinh Long and Can Tho, Ha Long Bay (Quang Ninh), Hoi An Ancient City (Quang Nam), and Notre Dame Cathedral (Ho Chi Minh City) got embedded into the viewers' mind after L'amant (The Lover), Indochine, and The Quiet American were screened.
|Tourists visit Ninh Binh, which used to be the filming location of the movie Kong: Skull Island. Photo: VNA|
Yellow Flowers On Green Grass has triggered Phu Yen's tourism industry to grow from around 12-13% to 30%. The number of visitors to Hue also soared thanks to the romantic scenes of Mat Biec (Dreamy Eyes).
The films have instilled in viewers a desire to explore for themselves.
Awakening sleeping beauty
With a small budget of US$2 million a year for promotional activities, tourism authorities have to be careful with their spending.
According to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Vietnamese movies have been broadcast on major movie channels around the world, which is the best way to promote Vietnam and its tourist destinations.
The domestic tourism industry can lure foreign travelers by combining film production with tourist destinations. Vietnam will get global promotion through international film project.
|For Hanoi's best shrimp cakes, CNN suggests tourists to head to Thanh Nien Street. Photo: CNN|
Ta Quang Dong, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, believes combining cinema with tourism is the right approach, based on global experience and domestic success.
Policies need to be changed to attract film crews from both domestic and international markets. The goal is to simplify licensing procedures, offer low-interest loans to film studios, and create modern facilities and policies to support locations and accommodations.
Experts say that cinema is good for tourism because of its wide reach. A movie can completely become a landmark in cinema and tourism.
Ha Van Sieu, Deputy Director of the Vietnam National Authority of Tourism, said that movies have had a positive impact on several destinations. The correlation between tourism and cinema has created new values. Successful motion pictures attract tourists to the filming locations. Conversely, travel also helps to inspire filmmakers.
Associate Professor, PhD Bui Hoai Son of the National Assembly's Committee on Culture and Education, believes that the economy can grow significantly with cultural contributions that utilize the talents of artists.
Bui Hoai Son stressed that creative talent is the most important resource of a country. Investing in film talent and infrastructure is key to the growth of the cultural industry.
Director Luong Dinh Dung believes that films can boost tourism by creating interest in places through storytelling.
He suggested that the tourism and film industries should work together from the beginning of the production process, including script writing, location selection, and storyboarding.
Although the authorities have made many policy changes, Vietnamese cinema has not really tapped the huge potential of its great filming locations. Many films have not been properly promoted, resulting in many beautiful scenes and landscapes in Vietnam remaining unknown to the world.