No matter what the outcome will be for the meetings between U.S. President Donald J. Trump and North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un in Hanoi this week, one this is for certain ~ that the prestige and reputation of Vietnam across cultural, economic and political realms is being raised on the global stage.
Hundreds of people from business and government have descended upon Hanoi, along with more than 3,000 of the world’s media. By all accounts, international visitors have been amazed at the crowded seas of motorcycle riders in Hanoi, delighted by the friendliness of Hanoi’s people and have been impressed at the professionalism of the services and security provided in support of the Trump–Kim meetings.
One of the media participants said, “I’m impressed! Hanoi is congested, like many of Asia’s cities, and services have been efficient, the internet and television transmission systems have been stable and participants have had Vietnamese interpreters, translators and runners available to help them interview people and make sure their media reports are on-time.”
A number of Vietnamese brands, including Vietnam Airlines and VinGroup have taken advantage of the summits television coverage and launched ads on CNN and other international channels. These ads are showing the business, cultural and tourism components of Vietnam and creating a positive image of Vietnam as one of Southeast Asia’s most dynamic and modern markets. A great place to do business, invest in or visit.
In the short-term, the tourism industry is a clear winner with every 5-star hotel and many 4-star hotels experiencing 100% occupancy rates. It’s estimated that there are more than 6,000 people involved with and attending the summit, including the Trump and Kim entourages, business leaders and the international press corps.
In the medium-term, tourism will win again be a winner as photographers and television reports show a dynamic, energetic, friendly and safe Hanoi. Many astute Hanoi and regional marketers have latched onto the PR opportunities that the summit brings. Some examples:
• The Hanoi Tourism Department is offering free city tours on the red double-decker buses to international journalists who can hop on a bus at the media center to travel to the city’s most iconic places. Traditional gifts such as Dong Ho paintings and conical hats have been readied for the journalists.
• Giang Café, which has gained global fame for creating “Egg Coffee,” will serve 3,000 cups of its famous drink to international journalists at the media center – 1,000 cups of coffee will be prepared and delivered to the media center each day.
• The Vietnam National Tourism Administration (VNAT) is offering free tours to international correspondents to popular tourist destinations in northern Vietnam, including Ha Long Bay and Ninh Binh
• VNAT is also working with U.S. cable TV channel CNN to promote Vietnamese tourism before, during and after the summit
• The Vietnam Chef Association have selected its “best chefs” to cook traditional foods for journalists during the summit
• Quang Binh Province in the central region has offered all journalists covering the event free tourism services. Quang Binh is one of the most popular travel destinations in Vietnam and home to the world’s largest cave – Son Doong Cave.
• Hanoi businesses are also taking the opportunity to promote their brands. A bar on Tran Vu Street has gained attention with a Kimchi-flavored craft beer named Kim Jong Ale; a pizzeria has been offering free pizzas to people with names similar to that of Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump; and a restaurant in the old quarter has hogged some attention with hamburgers named after the two leaders: "The Durty Donald" and "The Kim Jong Yum."
In the long-term Vietnam will win in a variety of ways. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) levels will increase because of the many positive stories about the country and increased investment in Hanoi and northern Vietnam should increase at a rate higher than other regions of the country.
American manufacturing companies with operations in China who are looking to diversify their risk will look at setting up new industrial and manufacturing operations in the country and use it as a counter-weight to China and as a hub for Mekong region and Southeast Asia business.
Institutional investment can also be directed into Vietnam’s stock market and the photos and reports of a peaceful and stable Vietnam are creating a picture of a country that international business people and tourists shouldn’t miss.