Since its establishment in 1973, the traditional friendship relations between Viet Nam and Finland have been nurtured and developed in positive direction. The two nations have cooperated effectively and gained remarkable achievements in fields such as science and technology, environment, clean energy, health, education, etc.
In this context, the potential of culture and tourism holds the promise of unveiling opportunities for development cooperation between the two countries, deepening the mutual understanding and trust, and promoting sustainable development of bilateral relations.
Culture serves as a distinguishing factor among countries. With a rich history and special geographical location, Viet Nam has numerous cultural and historic sites, beautiful landmarks and distinctive festivals, rituals, customs of 54 ethnic groups spanning from the North to the South, creating a diverse culture imbued with national identity, while selectively embracing the cultural quintessence of humanity. Viet Nam possesses an extensive array of natural, tangible and intangible cultural heritage, along with documentary heritage inscribed by UNESCO. Furthermore, Ha Noi – the thousand-year capital of Viet Nam has been recognized as a creative city of design within the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN). The rich cultural identity of Viet Nam forms a potent attraction for tourism, offering incredible experiences to its visitors.
Over 3,260km of Viet Nam’s coastline plays host to more than 3,000 islands, 125 beaches and many beautiful bays. Viet Nam showcases stunning landmarks, abundant tourism resources, and a secure and welcoming environment. The Vietnamese people are known for their friendliness and hospitality. In recent years, Viet Nam’s tourism industry has received numerous prestigious international awards, demonstrating recognition from the international community and reaffirming Viet Nam’s attractiveness to international tourists. Over the past five years, these accolades include Asia’s Leading Destination Award, Asia’s Leading Cultural Destination, Asia’s Leading Culinary Destination, the World’s Leading Heritage Destination, Asia’s Leading Sustainable Tourism Destination, Asia’s Best Golf Destination and the World’s Best Golf Destination. Many places in Viet Nam have been voted as the world’s top travel destinations by prominent news agencies and travel websites such as CNN, BBC, Travel Channel, Trip Advisor, The Telegraph, etc. include Ha Noi capital, Ha Long Bay, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang city, Hoi An Ancient Town, Phu Quoc Island and others. Notably, the world’s largest natural cave, Son Doong in Quang Binh, has become a captivating destination for adventure tourists all over the enthusiasts worldwide.
When discussing captivating cultural facets that attract international travellers, Vietnamese cuisine stands out as a prominent allure with its exceptional features, seamlessly fusing / showing the harmony between Eastern and Western culinary traditions. The culinary styles of three regions of Viet Nam exhibit flavors and characteristics influenced by geography and local customs. International tourists have the opportunity to discover and enjoy the quintessence of each region’s gastronomy, experiencing the finesse of local foods through various ingredients, processing techniques, decoration and flavors. Numerous dishes are high-rated in the selection lists of Taste Atlas, The Huffington Post, The Travel and other famous newspapers and websites. These dishes include beef noodle soup (phở), spring roll (nem cuốn), grilled pork and rice noodles (bún chả), Vietnamese baguette (bánh mì), andmore. Various television channels and global cuisine magazines, including CNN, Food and Wine, NAT GEO Adventure, have featured reports on Vietnamese cuisine. Additionally, two beloved street foods “pho” and “banh mi” have been found their places in the Oxford English Dictionary.
Viet Nam’s tourism products are increasingly diverse, attractive, and tailored to the preferences and tastes of travelers. Beyond conventional sightseeing tours, visitors now have the opportunity to engage with innovative products and services such as cultural, ecological, community-based, adventure, and craft village tourism, amongothers. Notably, green and sustainable tourism have emerged as trends and priorities in Viet Nam's tourism development policies. With more than 30 national parks and 8 UNESCO cultural and natural heritage sites, Viet Nam proves to be an ideal destination for travellers seeking sustainable tourism practices. In addition to living in environmentally- preserved accommodation, tourists can take part in sustainable tours that support ethnic minority communities, learn about Vietnamese culture, and explore off-the-beaten-path destinations. Some notablesustainable hotspots include Cao Bang, Ninh Binh, Phong Nha, Cai Be, and more.
Ha Long Bay at night
The Government of Viet Nam has facilitated favorable conditions for European tourists, including those from Finland, to experience and explore the culture, people and beauty of the country. The air travel connections between Viet Nam and European countries have been expanded significantly, with numerous high-quality international airlines now operating. These are direct flight routes connecting major cities in Viet Nam to several European countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and others, providing convenient travel options. In June 2023, Viet Nam’s National Assembly approved certain Laws regarding entry, exit, transit and residence of foreigners in Viet Nam. Accordingly, starting from August 15 2023, the validity of e-visa will be extended from 30 days to 90 days for single or multiple entries. Additionally, citizens of countries unilaterally exempted from visas by Viet Nam, including Finland, will be granted a temporary residence period of 45 days instead of 15 days. It marked a big leap in Viet Nam’s policy, showing its openness and integration, aimed atattracting international tourists.
After the Covid-19 lockdown, Viet Nam became the first country in Southeast Asia to fully reopen its tourism industry on 15 March 2022. The tourism sector has gradually recovered, achieving encouraging results. It has also adapted to the evolving needs and preferences of tourists post-pandemic. In the first six months of 2023, the number of international tourists visiting Viet Nam exceeded 5.5 million arrivals. Finnish tourists, though not as numerous as anticipated, totaled 5,474 visitors. This demonstrates robust growth compared to the same period of 2022. In July 2023 alone, the number of international visitors to Viet Nam exceeded 1 million, marking 6.5% increase compared to the previous month.
In the coming time, culture and tourism are expected to become major driving forces, promoting bilateral relations between Viet Nam and Finland. The two sides strengthen cooperation among tourism management agencies, local authorities, tourism associations, travel agency networks, hotels and airlines. They will also exchange experiences in tourism management and development, study and develop diverse and attractive tourism products, collaborate on training and developing human resources for tourism sector; and actively participate in international tourism events such as Viet Nam International Travel Mart (VITM) in Ha Noi, International Travel Expo Ho Chi Minh City (ITE HCMC), Matka Nordic Travel Fair in Finland, and more.
The year 2023 marks a significant milestone of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Viet Nam and Finland, opening a new chapter for the comprehensive and effective development of bilateral relations. Built upon the foundation of friendship relations nurtured and preserved over the years, the prospective path of cultural and tourism cooperation necessitates united efforts and mutual support of the two Governments and peoples, with a view to leveraging culture and tourism into prominent facets that contribute to the development of both nations.