Hai Phong develops culinary tourism for young travelers

Thế Anh
05:00:57 - June 15, 2022

Recently, Food tours in Hai Phong have gathered a lot of interest from young travelers. Based on this trend, Hai Phong released a food map to introduce delicious local dishes around the city, receiving a lot of support from tourists, especially during the past holidays from April 30 to May 1. Journey with Destination Review and talk with Mr. Vu Huy Thuong, Deputy Director of Hai Phong Department of Tourism to learn more about the vision behind the Hai Phong food map program, as well as upcoming outstanding plans for culinary tourism in Hai Phong city.

Hai Phong has a special geographical advantage, being a place that is situated in the Red River Delta bordering the sea, this allows Hai Phong to form a very unique culture that is separated from other provinces. In particular, culinary culture is a very prominent part of Hai Phong, from unique ingredients to processing methods, creating a wide variety of delicacies. With these advantages, the tourism industry in Hai Phong has long been developed with famous tourist areas and beaches like Do Son. In the process of establishing and developing tourism activities in Hai Phong, tourism products have always been our focus, especially when it comes to the importance of cuisine. 

In recent years, when the tourism activities become more robust, Hai Phong city decided to turn its cuisine into a unique tourism product. Culinary tourism is also one of the puzzle pieces that help in rounding out tourism programs in Hai Phong, especially products like city tours. In addition to tourist attractions and experience activities, visitors to Hai Phong can enjoy a wide range of delicacies, unique to the city itself. Even if the dishes have flavors that may other regions and provinces also have, we still have our way of cooking and method of enjoying, giving our food a taste of the sea. For the past few years, Hai Phong cuisine has stayed in the hearts of many tourists, both domestic and international alike. 

In the past two years, the Department of Tourism planned to make Food Tours into a culinary tourism product in the overall program that is Hai Phong city tour. Before that, we also cooperated with Vietnam Railways, specifically Hai Phong railway station to open a train line from Hanoi to Hai Phong. In addition, travel agencies, shops, and restaurants in the city also coordinate with the Hai Phong Department of Tourism to develop experience activities. However, because of the pandemic, we were not able to implement this program on a large scale. 

In this current situation, where tourism activities are slowly recovering, we took the initiative and immediately released a guide map for delicacies around Hai Phong, which had received some very positive feedback. The railway sector in Hai Phong never had such a large number of passengers ever before, during the last holiday from April 30 to May 3, Hai Phong Station recorded more than 15,000 passengers traveling by railway. In recent days, especially during the weekends, almost every train had to add more cars, some trains were so overloaded that there are no more seats, so some passengers had to use plastic chairs. From April until now, the monthly growth in the number of visitors traveling to Hai Phong is always above 10%. Of which, 80% of those tourists came for the food tour program. On the Haiphongtrip Facebook page, we also see that a lot of our locals are happy to welcome more tourists, as it makes the city more vibrant and robust. Every time locals come to their favorite restaurants or food stalls, there’s always a line every time, which makes everyone very happy. 

However, the plan to develop food tourism in Hai Phong is much wider than the recent Food tour program, which only encompasses a small part of Hai Phong cuisine with snacks and street food. Hai Phong’s culinary world is bigger than that, with unique cuisine to enjoy in many restaurants and hotels. Therefore, the Hai Phong Department of Tourism has a much more extensive program that is more long-term, opening up more doors for us to promote Hai Phong cuisine in the near future. 

First of all, a destination’s cuisine must stand up on its own and have unique characteristics. The Food Tour program in Hai Phong is mostly made up of snacks and street food, so they have to be long-standing, traditional dishes that taste unique to the land, only with these factors can local cuisine attract more tourists. 

Secondly, food safety and hygiene must also be considered. Hai Phong Department of Tourism had organized training courses, teaching local restaurants and shops about food hygiene and safety. If food poisoning were to occur, we would still have a way to respond. Food hygiene and safety are also requirements that restaurants need to fulfill if they want to be included in the Hai Phong Food Map program. After they are picked for the program, employees and owners will be supported with additional training. 

The third factor is customer service skills, which include attitude and communication skills. Hai Phong has done a great job in promoting civilized behaviors. Moreover, we also organized classes that teach civilized behavior and communication skills, creating a safe and friendly environment for tourists. Hai Phong’s police forces were also mobilized to ensure that hot spots like railway stations, bus stations, and famous restaurants/food stalls that are the focus of the Food Tour program are safe and orderly for everyone. 

In addition, we also encouraged stores to use eco-friendly packaging. We also push to ensure that prices are stable. For businesses that were picked for the Food Tour program, besides the three criteria listed above, they must also sign a commitment with the Hai Phong Department of Tourism to keep their prices stable, at least, until the end of 2022. 

Currently, most of the tourists going to Hai Phong are from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, so when we’re developing our culinary tourism products, we are also working on promoting them to these two markets. This includes participating in tourism fairs or sending information to travel agents and mainstream media. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Hai Phong also promoted its culinary products on social media and on the Department of Tourism’s website. Not to mention, when promoting the recent Food Map program, we coordinated with online groups, KOLs, and Youtubers that have high engagement across the country to attract more young people to the city. We are also planning to promote and organize an event in Ho Chi Minh where we will introduce Hai Phong tourism products to Southern Vietnamese.

In addition to the Food Map, recently we also published the “Hai Phong roundabout check-in”, which tourists can read to learn more about Hai Phong’s many destinations, where people can go to take pictures and enjoy the local sceneries. Besides recommending destinations, the publication also guides tourists on what to wear and how to take the best pictures, ensuring that tourists’ memories of their trip to Hai Phong remained long-lasting. 

For international tourists, we have determined the method of delivering and promoting tourism products needs to be more professional than the “trendy” style that we’re using for young Vietnamese tourists. As such, publications that are used to promote Hai Phong to international tourists will be different, not just in terms of culture and choice of destinations, but also in a variety of other content to provide better for foreign tourists. For the current food tour program, Hai Phong is only focusing on the young Vietnamese market, with publications and tourism products that are unsuitable for international tourists. In the future, the Hai Phong Department of Tourism will have other plans and forms of engagement that are more effective in attracting a wider market. 

We hope that Hai Phong’s culinary culture will be recognized, not just domestically, but also internationally. Until now, Hai Phong already has 10 delicacies that were recognized by local and international organizations. With our advantages in cuisine, and long-standing, traditional delicacies, I believe that culinary tourism will become more popular, invested, and developed into a unique tourism product. When it comes to Hai Phong’s place in Vietnamese cuisine, I hope that we will have a spot worthy of Hai Phong’s culture and development. 

#Destination Inno a series introducing innovation strategies and development plans of destinations.

Hai Phong develops culinary tourism for young travelers

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