Vietnam’s cuisine and landscapes left a lasting impression on hundreds of thousands of tourists that flocked to northern provinces during two weeks of the 31st SEA Games.
Hanoi welcomed 700,000 domestic arrivals and 31,500 foreign visitors during nearly two weeks of Southeast Asia’s largest sports event that took place in the capital and several northern localities between May 6-22, according to Hanoi’s tourism department.
These figures are equivalent to half of the total number of visitors to Hanoi in March and a third of April’s total arrivals, it said.
Eighteen luxury hotels served over 5,600 delegates, referees, athletes and reporters, including locals and foreigners.
Dang Huong Giang, director of Hanoi’s tourism department, said the SEA Games helped Hanoi to promote its tourism image and leave a good impression on foreign athletes, reporters and international tourists.
“The event has contributed to attracting international tourists and investors, and affirmed Hanoi as a destination of international and regional events.
In Vinh Phuc, nearly 400 athletes from the Muay Thai and golf teams visited the Tay Thien spiritual complex, Tam Dao and Dai Lai tourist areas. The groups also stayed at the famous Flamingo Dai Lai Resort and DIC-Star Hotel Vinh Phuc.
Ti Lian Ker, Malaysia’s Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, visited Tay Thien during this occasion. He appreciated Vinh Phuc’s climate, natural landscape, unique culture and cuisine.
“I hope there will be many cultural and tourism connections between Vietnam and Malaysia in the coming time,” he said.
Dam Thi Hang, director of the Center for Information and Tourism Promotion of Vinh Phuc Province, said she was happy that the SEA Games brought new opportunities for Vinh Phuc tourism.
In HCMC, many foreign tourists also flocked to Bui Vien beer street on Sunday night to celebrate the victory of the Vietnamese men’s football team over Thailand.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Bui Vien so bustling like this,” a bar manager said.
Sunny Ghaiee, executive vice president of Hanoi’s Daewoo Hotel, said his hotel has received positive feedback from foreign athletes and tourists during the SEA Games.
Many athletes said they will return to visit Vietnam and stay at the hotel.
“For us, that was the biggest recognition for the hotel’s efforts and contributions to the overall success of the 31st SEA Games,” Ghaiee said.
Bui Thanh Tung, general manager of Grand Vista Hanoi, which hosted bowling teams competing at the SEA Games, said foreign athletes staying at the hotel had praised traditional Vietnamese dishes.
Kittinat Nualyai, a member of the medical support team of the Thai sports delegation, said his first trip to Vietnam had evoked positive feelings.
“Vietnamese people are friendly and hospitable, making us comfortable. I particularly liked banh cuon (steamed rice rolls), because it’s soft and easy to eat,” he said.
Singaporean May Schooling, who was in Hanoi to support her star swimmer Joseph Schooling, said she hoped to stay in Vietnam longer to explore all tourist attractions and its cuisine. However, due to pandemic prevention rules in Singapore, they had to return home early with other athletes.
She said she and her son, Singapore’s first Olympic gold medalist, would return to visit Vietnam for sure after being impressed by the “delicious food and kind people.”
She had enjoyed Hanoi’s signature street dishes like chicken noodle soup, fried catfish, egg coffee, and banh mi.
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