By Thanh An – Translated by Uyen Phuong
International tourism is a significant driver of the Vietnamese economy, accounting for 9.2 percent of the country’s GDP in 2019 with a record 18 million foreign visitors, a 16.2 percent increase compared to the previous year.
In a letter sent to the Prime Minister recently, the National Tourism Advisory Council (TAB) recommended that in order for Vietnam to avoid falling behind other competing countries in tourism attraction, it needs technical and policy solutions to draw back tourists in a timely manner. They argued that several of Vietnam’s international tourism competitors, such as Thailand, are already planning to reopen their borders in a safe way to support travel by business people, experts, and foreign tourists.
|The tourism industry is awaiting a quick recovery|
However, Hoang Nhan Chinh, Head of the TAB Secretariat, emphasized that welcoming back international visitors must be based on Vietnam’s ability to detect Covid-19 infection and handle such cases.
At a meeting last month with localities, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc assigned relevant authorities to consider appropriate control measures for when Vietnam accepts vaccine passports and reopens international routes.
The digital vaccine passport proving an individual has been vaccinated against the coronavirus could be stored on a phone or a digital wallet, and the data displayed in the form of a QR code.
Mobile networks have told authorities that the necessary technical infrastructure to keep track of vaccination certificates for foreigners would be ready starting in April. Currently, Vietnam applies a 14-day quarantine rule for guests and immigrants, including those who have been vaccinated.
Vaccine certification pilot programs
A number of countries and organizations have piloted digitized certification tools. For example, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has developed a digital tool called the Digital Travel Pass, used to help passengers manage their travel schedules and prove to airlines and authorities that they have been vaccinated or tested for Covid-19. The World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Common Project (Switzerland) are in the testing phase of the Common Pass, which allows users to access information about the tests and vaccines.
IBM Corporation has also introduced a Digital Health Pass that integrates multiple data such as temperature check, virus exposure warning, test results and vaccine injection status. IBM said the pass would help people return to public places such as work, schools, stadiums or flights.
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) also discussed the integration of vaccination certification into plans for safe tourism launches and enhancing confidence in the tourism industry. According to the UNWTO, the certification will be a particularly important tool in promoting a safe re-start of international tourism activities.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has assigned the Ministry of Health to coordinate with relevant ministries
and sectors on appropriate anti-Covid-19 measures when applying the vaccine passport. He also asked them
to consider a gradual reopening of international flights.
In a message sent to State President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, President of Cuba Miguel Diaz-Canel expressed his wish to further enhance bilateral ties on the basis of unconditional support, mutual political trust and symbolic solidarity.
On the occasion, Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, Deputy Emir of Qatar Sheikh Abdullah Bin Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, President of the Czech Republic Milos Zeman, President of the Maldives Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, and ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi also congratulated the Vietnamese President.
Congratulating Pham Minh Chinh on being elected as Prime Minister, his Cuban counterpart Manuel Marrero Cruz wished to strengthen the bilateral relationship and develop future projects in all fields of shared interest.
Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of Qatar Sheikh Khalid Bin Khalifa Bin Abdulaziz Al-Thani, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Andrej Babis, President of the Maldives Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi also cabled congratulatory messages to Chinh.
In his message sent to National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue, President of the National Assembly of People’s Power of Cuba Esteban Lazo Hernandez expressed his belief that the traditional friendship and cooperation between the two legislatures and nations will further grow in the near future.
Chairwoman of the Federation Council of Russia Valentina Matviyenko, for her part, thanked Hue for supporting the development of bilateral ties. She believed that the cooperation between the two legislatures over the past years will lay a solid foundation for bilateral relationship as well as coordination at international forums, contributing to consolidating stability and security in Asia-Pacific.
Upon addressing the meeting, NA Chairman Hue said that along with efforts to successfully organise the NA’s 11th session, which is the last of the 14th tenure, preparations for the elections of deputies to the 15th legislature and all-level People’s Councils for the 2021 to 2026 tenure have been underway since the NEC’s fourth session.
The responsibility of the NEC is to both direct and guide the organisation of elections of deputies to the 15th NA and People’s Councils at all levels for the 2021 to 2026 term, in accordance with the law. This therefore serves to make the process safe, economical, and democratic as a means of electing those who are truly competent and worthy of the confidence of citizens. These efforts will ultimately make the election on May 23 a true festival for the entire population, NA Chairman Hue added.
The ready-made ingredients to make Han Thuc’s festival specialties has been plenty in both local and online markets for expats in Hanoi to buy and delight their children at home with a Vietnamese cooking lesson.
Hanoians often make two types of sweet dumplings – banh troi (floating dumplings) and banh chay ( sweet mung bean dumplings) – on the third day of the third month of the Lunar year, to worship their ancestors.
|Making these eye-catching banh troi and banh chay can be a joyful moment for mothers and children. Photo: The Vietnamese sweet dumplings made by To Hung Giang.|
Han Thuc Festival or the ‘Cold Food Festival’, falls on 14 April this year. Even though not many people are knowledgeable about the festival’s origin, it’s still considered important among all the Vietnamese rituals.
As special dishes made exclusively for Han Thuc festival, banh troi and banh chay as well as their ingredients are sold at every market throughout the country in the days leading up to and during the festivals. Expats in Hanoi can buy the ready-made ingredients and delight their children at home with a Vietnamese cooking lesson.
In these modern days, savvy working housewives don’t have time for the time-consuming task, so they prefer to buy banh troi and banh chay at food stalls in the market. But like many things, the best are home-made.
|The colouful dish of Banh troi made by To Hung Giang.|
Banh troi are small white dumplings made from glutinous rice flour stuffed with brown sugar. The most important stage of making banh troi is the shaping. Cooks pinch a little dough and flatten it out, place a brown sugar ball in the middle and roll it into a smaller ball of about three centimeters in diameter.
The cook heats the water to the boiling point, then cools it down a little bit before dropping some rice balls in, then boils again. When the balls float to the surface of the pot, they’re taken out with a ladle and then immediately placed into a bowl of cold water to prevent them from being overly sticky or gluing together.
The final step is the presentation. The white glutinous balls are put onto a plate and sprinkled with roasted white or black sesame seeds. Once made, they should be eaten that same day.
Banh chay are also made from glutinous flour, but they resemble boiled dumplings and are filled with mung bean paste, sprinkled with sesame seeds, and served in bowls with syrup flavored with grapefruit blossoms.
|A new version of banh chay in funky shape of pigs made by Phuong Nguyen.|
Traditionally, the banh troi and banh chay are white with a sugary taste, but talented cooks can make them more colourful and tasty by adding food colouring or flavouring to the dough.
In the present days, housewives do not need to prepare all ingredients for making these cakes by themselves but ordering from online stores on social media such as Facebook and Zalo or online shopping platforms like Shoppee, Lazada or buying from local markets.
These dough sets include all ready-made ingredients such as sticky-rice flour, natural brown sugar, green bean paste, sesame seeds, grated coconut, among others, at prices ranging from VND65,000 ($3) to VND100,000 ($4.5) per set.
A dough set at the price of $3 comprises one kilogram of ready-made glutinous rice flour (in five different colours) with corresponding amounts of sugar and roasted sesame.
|The safe ready-made ingredients to make banh troi and banh chay could be ordered via social media such as Facebook and Zalo or online shopping platforms like Shoppee, Lazada. Photo: dolambanhgabi|
A more expensive set, at $4.5, includes one kilogram of glutinous rice flour with corresponding amounts of sugar and roasted sesame for making banh troi and green bean paste and fresh sliced coconut for making banh chay .
Besides, the ready-made sweets are also available for busy housewives. The prices for ready-to-eat sweets range from VND10,000 to VND50,000 (from US$0.4 to $2.1) per portion, could also be ordered online or bought in the local markets.
For adventurous housewife who want to experience some new ‘different’ tastes, the floating dumplings with salted eggs or chocolate fillings are also available at the price of VND100,000 ($4.5) for a portion. Additionally, the floating dumplings in non-traditional shapes like rabbit, cat, fish are also the highlights of this year’s Han thuc Festival.
The ready-made ingredients for making banh troi and banh chay at home are available at: https://www.facebook.com/beemartvietnam ; https://www.facebook.com/vanashop or https://www.facebook.com/dolambanhgabi
MUSIC & PERFORMANCES
Hanoi-Musical to mark Vietnam-Switzerland ties
Apr 16 & 17
Hanoi’s L’Espace, 24 Trang Tien Street
Featuring “L’Histoire du soldat” (the Soldier’s Tale), a classic musical by French-Russian composer Igor Stravinsky and Swiss writer Charles Ferdinand Ramuz.
French musical ‘Les Misérables’ tours
Mid-April – June
April 16-18, Hanoi Opera House, 1 Trang Tien Street, Hanoi
May, National Dance and Music Festival, Dak Lak Province
Early June, Ho Chi Minh City
Hanoi- Events honouring cultures of Vietnamese ethnic groups
Through out April
Hanoi-Exhibition: Those who do not move, do not notice their chains
Hanoi-‘Virtual Private Realms’ Exhibition
Binh Dinh Province-Exhibition: ECO-SUS
International Centre for Interdisciplinary Science and Education, 7 Science Avenue, Quy Nhon City, Binh Dinh Province
HCMC- Exhibitions: ‘Within / Between / Beneath / Upon’ & ‘Home: Looking inwards to the outer world’
Until Jun 6, 10 am – 07 pm