Travel experience must go hand in hand with cuisine
Update: Oct 26, 2022
Tourism development, in addition to the elements of scenic spots and typical cultural features, in order to attract tourists, it is highly necessary to give priority to culinary elements. Because of the fact, not only do many people go travelling for sightsee and admire sites they really want but they also consider it to be a highly inviting journey of culinary discovery, especially regional cuisine.

A food stall serving tourists at a 5-star coastal resort in Da Nang. Photo: T.Y

Fun experience

Culinary tourism is a lively and attractive experience for tourists. When enjoying the specialties of a certain region/country, you will better understand the typical lifestyle, customs and culture. The attractiveness, novelty and deliciousness in the tourist destination will be the driving force to keep visitors coming back and recommend it to many others.

The cuisine of each country/region is the distinct cultural feature and characteristic of each country/region. As for Vietnamese cuisine, there is a distinct culture in combination with very diverse and rich cuisine in the northern, central and southern regions. Therefore, to gain a deep insight into the culture of any region in Viet Nam, we cannot ignore the food culture.

Through cuisine, one can understand the cultural features that show human dignity, cultural level with morals, rules and customs in the way of eating. In Viet Nam, each region and locality has culinary specialties, becoming a ‘brand’.

For example, the land of Da Nang and Quang Nam is well renowned for Quang noodles, Hoi An with ‘cao lau’ (the foremost traditional food cooked with croutons, rice noodles, Chinese barbequed pork slices, and fresh herbs) and Ha Noi with ‘pho’.

More interesting are the restaurant names associated with delicious dishes. The psychology of many tourists when travelling in a certain locality is to wants to enjoy delicacies that are foreign to them. For example, tourists from the Central Highlands and Northern provinces, especially those not adjacent to the sea, want to come to Da Nang and Hoi An to enjoy seafood. Meanwhile,  those from the central region to Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta region prefer enjoying original taste of ‘hu tieu’ (tapioca noodle soup).

Likewise, visitors from the southern region, when coming to Da Nang, like to enjoy Quang noodles served with frog, or ‘banh cuon trang cuon thit heo’ (belly pork and vegetables wrapped in soft rice paper)

In addition to the quality factor, food safety and hygiene is also a matter of concern to many tourists. In order to attract tourists through cuisine, besides quality factors, such factors as food hygiene and service attitude should be taken into account.

As mentioned above, travelling combined with learning and experiencing the "food culture" of the destination is also a hobby of many tourists. For example, visitors can experience how to make ‘banh trang’ (rice paper), Quang noodles and ‘banh xeo’ (pancakes) in Hoa Vang rural areas to learn the history and origin of dishes that have become its trademarks and characteristics.

There is nothing more interesting than discovering, making food and directly enjoying them later.  This is also a fact that those who do community tourism need to pay attention to, because it shows the "predestined relationship" between tourism and food culture.

Exploiting tourism through the "food road"

It is highly necessary for 5-star resorts and restaurants to exploit more elements of pure Vietnamese cuisine as well as create a forum for regional and national cultural and culinary exchanges in tourism development. Not long ago, the Da Nang Department of Tourism successfully organised the Da Nang International Food Festival 2019 for the first time, bringing together 13 chefs from 13 countries from Asia, Europe and Americas.

Visitors near and far had the opportunity to enjoy the dishes of Viet Nam and many other countries. This was also a way of exploiting tourism with cuisine as the theme, creating a new attraction for tourists when coming to Da Nang. It is necessary to maintain it as an annual event, creating a unique tourism product for the city.

In addition, attention should be paid to serving food for those from special tourist source markets with Muslims and Buddhists. For example, for tourists who are Muslim, they are often very disciplined. There is no "breaking" in eating, so it is necessary to pay attention to the concept of "Halal food", a type of food specifically for Muslims as specified in the Koran.

Exploiting culinary value to develop tourism in Da Nang needs to be taken seriously. A question raised here is how to turn culinary art into a unique product of Da Nang tourism. To do that, the tourism industry needs to actively promote "Quang" cuisine through food contests and festivals, and promote it at domestic and foreign tourism events.

At the same time, in the city's tourism development master plan, the tourism industry needs to set out tasks and directions in order to elevate culinary culture into a unique tourism product, organise the planning of tourism products associated with cuisine, with attention to the issue of food safety and hygiene, instruct enterprises to design tours effectively exploiting the culinary art tradition of the Quang land and encourage restaurantsto register for the so-called ‘Standard establishments serving tourists".

Hopefully in the near future, besides the inherent strengths of the sea, forests, scenic spots, and resorts, Da Nang will have a new tourism product through the ‘Culinary Road’, which is attractive enough to lure tourists near and far every time they visit this beautiful and hospitable city.

Reporting by Diep Dan Hung - Translating by Anh Thu

Da Nang Today - - October 25, 2022