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Vietnam is a must-see country: EC official

Friday, December 12, 2014, 18:21 GMT+7

A high-ranking official of the European Commission (EC) says Vietnam is a must-see country after winning second prize in a local tourism writing and photography contest.

Johann Farnhammer, head of the Development Section of the Delegation of the European Commission to the Philippines, has won the second prize of the tourism writing and photography contest “Tan Huong Ban Sac Viet” (Savor Vietnam).

The competition was jointly organized by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper and Saigontourist – a major Vietnamese travel firm.

Farnhammer also served as Second Secretary of the Cooperation Development Section of the Delegation of the EC to Vietnam in 2009.

Speaking at the award presentation ceremony, which took place Thursday at Rex Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, Farnhammer said that writing an article on Vietnamese tourism is easy for him as “I’m infatuated with Vietnam’s landscapes, heritages, culture and people.”

He explained how fortunate he is to have had the opportunity to work in Vietnam for two different periods and return to the Southeast Asian country several more times to further explore its hidden charms.

After all, the best way to promote a country’s tourism is through the messages tourists pass on to their families and friends back home about their wondrous experiences in that country, Farnhammer noted.

“I told my friends Vietnam is a must-see as it offers all that tourists yearn for. It’s sometimes the everyday experiences or the ‘hidden charm’ as the [old] slogan selected by the Vietnamese tourism industry indicated that makes the country most unforgettable for international holidaymakers,” the economic expert revealed.

“Vietnam is a perfect harmony of the time-honored and modern values, tranquility and bustle, bitterness and sweetness, humor and solemnity, the wilderness and luxury skyscrapers. My advice is that you should retain the charms and historical vestiges amidst the booming construction sites and economic growth,” Farnhammer suggested.

In his Vietnamese article titled “Ban Sac – Nguon Tai Nguyen Bat Tan” (Cultural Identity – The Boundless Resource), which earned him the second prize of the “Tan Huong Ban Sac Viet” contest, he also said that “Vietnam is my most-loved destination in the world, which boasts a fabulous blend of cultural, historical and natural elements, cuisine, shopping and people.”   

“I fell in love with Vietnam at first sight when I first visited the country as a backpacker in 1994. Since then, the country’s infrastructure has seen notable improvements, sending it on a par with the strongest tourism contenders. Tourists always find the best value for their money here,” he wrote.

Farnhammer donated his entire award of VND15 million (US$706) to Tuoi Tre’s “Uoc Mo Cua Thuy” (Thuy’s Dream) fund, which is dedicated to helping young Vietnamese cancer patients.

According to the CEO of Saigontourist Tran Hung Viet, who headed the “Tan Huong Ban Sac Viet” contest’s organizing board, the writing section which ran from July to October 2014 received 545 entries, including those from overseas Vietnamese and expats in Vietnam.

The organizer handed away 10 prizes, including one first prize and two second prizes to the authors of the most outstanding submissions.    Prizes were also presented to authors of the best photos in July, August, September and October 2014 in the contest’s photography section.

The section, launched four months ago, has received over 3,000 photos from professional and amateur photographers, and continues to welcome entries until February 28.

The most outstanding photos and writings will be compiled into an eponymous book, which will serve as one of Saigontourist’s principal publications to promote Vietnamese tourism to domestic and foreign markets, Viet said.

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