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Aug 25, 2023 / 15:31

Tourism and cinema industries team up to promote national scenic treasures

The cinema and tourism industries must work closely together to further promote Vietnam's scenic treasures through films.

Expedia's Travel Trends 2023 report found that two-thirds of global travelers have expressed interest in exploring destinations inspired by movies. About 39% of global travelers' bookings were influenced by storylines.

The collaboration between Vietnamese cinema and the tourism industry has resulted in visually stunning footage showcasing Vietnam's tourist attractions to the world. However, this avenue of promotion is not always favorable.

Close cooperation

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Vietnam was the location for French film productions such as The Lover, Dien Bien Phu, and Indochina. These films triggered a huge influx of visitors to Vietnam, eager to explore its then-unspoiled natural beauty.

Director Victor Vu's film Yellow Flowers on Green Grass promoted Phu Yen and the famous beach towns of Nha Trang in Khanh Hoa province and Quy Nhon in Binh Dinh.

 Hanoi is an ideal location for film production. Photo: VNA

Travel agencies have stated that the reason for the surge in tourism to Phu Yen is the picturesque scenery depicted in movies. Many other Vietnamese motion pictures also have a good impact on domestic destinations.

Among the most popular English movies released on its platform worldwide, A Tourist's Guide to Love of Netflix in Vietnam stood out last April. The movie was filmed in Hanoi, Ha Giang, Da Nang, Hoi An, and Ho Chi Minh City, the five iconic destinations of Vietnam, and within just four days of its release, it amassed 13.4 million hours of viewing time, ranking third on the list of most-watched English movies worldwide.

After making it into the top 10 most watched films in Vietnam, A Tourist's Guide to Love went on to achieve global success in 77 countries. Vietnam's natural beauty, cultural heritage and diverse population are highlighted and appeal to a large global audience.

Despite Vietnam's diverse cultural identity, abundant tourism resources, and the positive impact of the aforementioned movies, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Van Hung believes that the country has not been able to attract as many foreign film crews as neighboring countries in Southeast Asia.

"The promotion of destinations through cinematographic works is modest and hasn't taken advantage of what is currently available. Minister Nguyen Van Hung said cooperation between the film and tourism sectors is essential for mutual development.

According to Nguyen Van Tinh, former Director of International Cooperation at the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, a Hollywood-based film studio has expressed interest in filming a segment of Vietnam's widely acclaimed 007 blockbuster series. Preparations for the film were already complete, even going so far as to secure a large ship to use as a backdrop in Ha Long Bay. Unfortunately, the film did not have a permit.

The Hollywood film crew then moved to Thailand and set up the location on Khao Phing Kan Island in Phang Nga Bay.

 Rachael Leigh Cook in a scene of A Tourist's Guide to Love in My Son Sanctuary, Quang Nam. Photo: Netflix

Tinh said the location is not comparable to Titov Beach and Kissing Rocks in Vietnam's Ha Long Bay in terms of scenery, but Khao Phing Kan is now as popular as Vietnam's World Heritage Site after the movie. Thais even renamed it James Bond Island.

Vietnam also missed the chance to host director Oliver Stone, a highly acclaimed filmmaker who has twice won the Academy Award for Best Director and another Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Due to cumbersome regulations, Oliver Stone turned to Thailand to complete the film Heaven and Earth instead of shooting it in Vietnam.

Experts have said that strict script censorship is the cause of these incidents, leading foreign film studios to perceive Vietnam as an unattractive option for filming.

It's high time for cinema and tourism to join hands

Not only international film producers, but also local filmmakers face fastidious administrative procedures when looking for locations in Vietnam.

"There is too much paperwork and no standard procedure, which makes it very inconvenient for studios," said director Phan Gia Nhat Linh.

The local government's focus on promoting popular tourist attractions poses a challenge for filmmakers seeking access to never-before-seen locations. Nevertheless, filmmakers continue to seek out new and unique scenes for their films.

 International tourists visit the filming site of Kong: Skull Island in Ninh Binh. Photo: VNA

To realize the potential of film locations to promote tourism, Director Linh suggests that filmmakers should work more closely with travel agencies and the tourism industry.

Nguyen Van Tinh, an experienced professional in the film and culture industry for many years, said filmmakers should focus on topics such as cultural heritage, Vietnamese cuisine and traditional handicraft villages.

The tourism industry can commission producers to make short films on these topics with scenic landscapes and stunning shots, Nguyen Van Tinh said.

Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Van Hung suggested that enterprises, investors and all relevant units take measures to strengthen cooperation between the film and tourism industries to promote the growth of Vietnam's green economy.

Minister Hung stressed the urgency of finalizing policies to improve competitiveness and streamline procedures to facilitate foreign film production in Vietnam.

It is important for both localities and tourism enterprises to synchronize tourism promotion plans with film production schedules, Hung said.