Though actress-businesswoman Ly Nha Ky, the most promising candidate for Vietnam’s 2013-2014 tourism ambassador, who the Japanese consul general stands by, withdrew from the race for personal reasons, the country’s top tourism officials have had trouble picking from the remaining contenders.
Despite mixed public opinion on her performance as last year’s ambassador, 30-year-old Ky stood an excellent chance of being reelected as she won 87% of the journalists’ votes in a meeting between top tourism officials and local media earlier this month.
According to Tran Nhat Hoang from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Ky’s dominant strenghths include attractive looks, great popularity, excellent foreign language skills and good relations in art and business circles and the capability of calling for financial support for Vietnamese tourism, as well as making tourism promotion products on her own.
The high-profile beauty is also highly committed to the job, as she spent a considerable amount of time and her own money in promoting Ha Long Bay and helping Vietnam become the host of the Asian Games (ASIAD) in 2019, Hoang noted.
Ky also received a letter from the Japanese Consul General in Ho Chi Minh City, Harumitsu Hida, in which he thanked her for her tireless efforts in promoting Vietnamese tourism, and her remarkable support for the consulate’s activities during her term.
Two weeks ago, without warning, Ky dropped out of the race, explaining that she has had enough of the slander, offense and chatter during her ambassadorship regarding her education background and her scandalous lifestyle, which took a damaging toll on herself and her family.
However, many think that Ky is faking it and using a ‘retreat to advance’ ploy.
Meanwhile, lesser-known Huynh Thi Ngoc Han, who won the Miss Tourism title at the 2011 Miss Ethnic Vietnam and holds two Master’s degrees in International Trade and Public Relations from Australia, is also a good choice.
The 26-year-old beauty is currently working as a PR executive at Brisbane City Hall, as well as providing international trade counseling in Australia.
With last year’s outstanding performance as an ambassador for international students in Australia, Hoang from the ministry said Ngoc Han’s range of activity and influence is mainly in that country, though she also takes part in student volunteer activities in HCMC.
The other candidate, Do Thi Hong Thuan, a 28-year-old English teacher at a Hanoi school, has no strong points. Her popularity in the mass media is zero and her ability to mobilize support for the promotion of Vietnam’s tourism has not been proven.
Thuan herself admitted that she does not have fame, money or beauty.
Some netizens even expressed disapproval and frustration at Thuan’s candidacy.
The race continues and intensifies
Not long after Ky’s withdrawal, several beauties nominated or considered nominating themselves for the post.
30-year-old actress Lan Phuong, Vietnam’s former peace ambassador to Fukuoka, Japan and a representative of the country on the 36th Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program (SSEAYP) 2009 recently nominated herself for the position.
One of the most versatile actresses in Vietnam, Phuong has created a successful acting career. Phuong is also good at dancing, and speaking foreign languages, such as English, French and Japanese.
Phuong, who was Ky’s 6th-grade and dance classmate, said she’s undaunted by Ky’s great financial power.
According to Dan Tri, though top tourism officials consider Phuong a strong contender, netizens pointed out her weaknesses, including limited height.
The International Cooperation Office under the ministry also received an application from 25-year-old Chau Mong Nhu, the first runner-up of the 2012 Miss National Asia Pageant.
Dan Tri reported that Nhu is also considered a promising contender by tourism officials with such strengths as a good command of English and experience working with a cultural heritage organization.
According to VnExpress, the beauty is quite confident about her candidacy, since as the director of her own media company for the past four years, she has garnered considerable experience in organizing tourism-related events and enjoys favorable relations among local and foreign media and tourism partners.
Meanwhile, Dieu Han, Miss ASEAN 2012, told the Vietnam News Agency that she’s completing her application for the post.
Han, 23, said her crown and her upcoming trips with the pageant’ organizers to promote culture and tourism in ASEAN countries give her a competitive edge in the tourism ambassador race.
Hoang, from the ministry, also told Dan Tri that two more young women, one currently living in France and the other the director of a local tourism company, have expressed their wishes to join the race.