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Food festival in Ho Chi Minh City leaves visitors disappointed

Food festival in Ho Chi Minh City leaves visitors disappointed

Tuesday, October 31, 2023, 11:16 GMT+7
Food festival in Ho Chi Minh City leaves visitors disappointed
The Food Festival, taking place at the Reunification Palace in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City from October 20 to 22, 2023, failed to highlight Vietnamese cuisine. Photo: Hai Kim / Tuoi Tre

The recent Food Festival held in downtown Ho Chi Minh City left many visitors feeling disheartened.

This negative response highlights the ongoing challenges in effectively promoting Vietnamese culinary arts.

The event, meant to glorify Vietnamese cuisine, took place at the Reunification Palace in District 1 from October 20 to 22. 

The festival's aim was to attract both locals and foreigners to explore and appreciate Vietnamese cuisine.

However, it fell short of its goals in promoting Vietnam's culinary heritage.

The fest was jointly organized by the Ho Chi Minh City Tourism Association, the Saigon Professional Chefs Association, and the Vietnam Culinary Conservation, Research, and Development Center.

One vendor, L., shared her experience at the festival. Due to a lack of personal oversight, she entrusted her employees with setting up her booth, only to discover chaos when she visited after the opening ceremony.

The Reunification Palace, a landmark in Ho Chi Minh City with a sprawling 120,000 square meters, had sufficient space to accommodate numerous kiosks. 

However, the conditions inside were chaotic, with wooden boards on muddy grass, confusing pathways between kiosks, and many visitors bypassing the booths without stopping.

Another issue was the lack of regional specialties and authenticity in the nearly 100 kiosks. The festival failed to highlight the true richness of Vietnamese cuisine.

C., an executive of a beverage company, expressed disappointment, saying, "As an entrepreneur, I expected this to be an opportunity for us to promote our products, but most of the kiosks were run by unknown individuals."

Despite its central location, the festival lacked well-prepared restroom facilities.

A successful event requires a venue that meets certain standards, including ample space and excellent infrastructure, to ensure convenience for both vendors and visitors.

The inconvenience resulted in financial losses for kiosk operators who had to pay a daily rental fee of VND5 million (US$203), along with additional expenses. 

According to the organizers, there were no plans to reduce these fees, except for a 50-percent discount for participants in the next Ho Chi Minh City Tourism Association festivals.

With its longstanding food culture, diverse culinary traditions, and abundant natural resources, Vietnamese cuisine has the potential to become a global ambassador for the country's tourism industry.

To achieve this, Vietnam needs a strategic vision.

A representative from Saigontourist Group, with extensive experience in hosting Vietnamese cuisine events worldwide, emphasized the importance of selecting the right venue and offering only the most renowned dishes that truly represent Vietnamese flavors.

A food festival should be a harmonious blend of culinary and cultural elements, providing visitors with a comfortable environment to savor courses while learning about their historical significance and unique characteristics.

Key information, including brand names, store addresses, names of artisans or chefs, and reasonable prices, must be clearly displayed at kiosks.

Ho Chi Minh City regularly hosts varied fairs and food festivals at different levels, with Vietnamese food being a prominent product promoted by the tourism industry.

However, it is evident that countries like Thailand and South Korea organize food festivals more professionally in terms of food quality and event standards.

A 'festival' should offer visitors an engaging travel and culinary experience, not just what can be found at a typical fair.

Delicious food is often a major draw for tourists, so organizers should not disappoint them with an underwhelming experience.

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Hai Kim - Kim Thoa / Tuoi Tre News

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