Hanoi is over a thousand year old. But for many people who love the old, traditional features of Hanoi, Hanoi is seems not to have aged at all. Hanoi is not only a beloved place for Hanoi citizens but also for friends from afar.
Welcome to the celebration of the 1,000 year anniversary of Thang long - Hanoi. Journalist Thu Hoa interviewed PhD Mickael DiGregorio, an Italian American, a former offical of the Ford Foundation, who has been living and working in Hanoi Vietnam for 18 years.
Thu Hoa asked: In your opinion, what is the most fascinating characteristic of Hanoi?
PhD Mickael DiGregorio: Many people have asked me this question. There are many things that Vietnamese take for granted. However, Foreigners regard them as special because daily life in Hanoi is very different form life back in their own countries. The things that I have always found attractive about Hanoi is the open, personal and spontaneous charater of life in this city. Everyone know each other for two or three generations. People are comfortable with each other. The life is very public - that is people spend alot of time outside their homes, on the sidewalks and streets in clubs and public parks or simplely visiting each other. You could nerver, ever be lonely.
However, American has lost alot of that 'hominess' as people moved out to the suburbs where life is more structured: here is the residential area, over there is the shopping area and in this other place is my work. But in Hanoi Vietnam, you still have the feeling of belonging to a place, largely because most shop are owner operated and still a very lively street life. I love living here.
Thu Hoa asked: Comparing the number of tourists to other cities like Singapore, Bangkok... The number of international tourists is still small. To promote Hanoi travel to the world, What should Hanoi do?
PhD Mickael DiGregorio: Hanoi has not yet been overwhelmed by international franchises - mas-marketed brands and retail outlets that are the same wherever you go. In a city landscape dominated by these franchises there is nothing special to see.. Most Hanoi is still very authentic, and as I noted in your first question, life is still very spontaneous, open and personal. I think that's why people come here - to expereince that life.
So, for me, the best branding and promotion strategy for Hanoi is to focus in the expereince of life in Hanoi. Hanoi is city of life. People come here to go to open markets, to watch Hanoi people do their morning exercises around Hoan Kiem lake, to sit and drink a coffee at a sidewalk cafe, to eat a real pho, to buy "French" bread from a barket carried by a girl from Ha Nam, to visit smoke filled temple where they come to pray every day...
This is why foriegn broadcasters hire my wife to shoot so many 'real life' stories about Hanoi Vietnam. People want to participate in the overflowing and abundant life of this city. Now just think about some other cities on Southeast Asia. Their tourism promotion broads may say something about "experience" in their campaigns, but all their experiences are in controlled settings - casinos, shopping malls, resorts... Come to Hanoi and you will experience life that overflows.
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