Running from 3 to 5 November on the banks of Thuyen Quang Lake in the cultural-pedestrian zone of Tran Nhan Tong Street, the Hanoi Tourism Gift Festival 2023 attracts the attention of many travelers at home and abroad.
Opportunity to promote images of Hanoi
Having heard about the Hanoi Tourism Gift Festival just a few days ago, Phuong Nhi from Hanoi’s Hai Ba Trung District was among the first to come to the festival. After spending hours looking at the myriad of traditional handicrafts, Nhi bought some handmade ceramics from Bat Trang Village and a bamboo flower vase inlaid with mother-of-pearl from Chuon Ngo Village.
“I want to find some souvenirs associated with Hanoi for myself, my family and friends living abroad. Besides, the festival site is lively with all the stalls neatly decorated and displaying some typical products of Hanoi,” she said.
Meanwhile, Gomez Liz from Spain showed interest in looking at the photos of Hanoi’s trading villages, which are the award-winning artworks of the 2022 Hanoi Tourism Photo Contest.
“It was exciting to learn that Hanoi has not only high-rise buildings with modern spaces but also many ancient buildings and traditional handicraft villages,” Liz told The Hanoi Times.
With the theme “Hanoi – Come to Fall in Love”, the Hanoi Tourism Gift Festival 2023 is expected to highlight the capital’s tourism, increasing its appeal for visitors to Hanoi.
There are 70 booths displaying gifts from Hanoi’s handicraft villages and gift manufacturing and trading companies, a visual art exhibition using 3D mapping technology, an interactive light showroom with modern equipment, and a photo exhibition on Hanoi tourism. There are also miniature models paying tribute to several traditional handicraft villages typical of the city, such as Phu Vinh Rattan and Bamboo Village, Thach Xa Bamboo Dragonfly Village and Bat Trang Ceramics Village.
According to Dang Huong Giang, director of the Hanoi Tourism Department, Hanoi is known as “the land of hundreds of trades”. It also boasts an old French quarter, a diversified system of historical and revolutionary relics, and a treasure trove of intangible cultural heritage.
“These precious assets contain a lot of cultural input that can be conveyed interestingly through tourism gift products,” she said.
Bringing the quintessence of craft villages closer to tourists
In its second edition, the Hanoi Tourism Gift Festival, an initiative of the Hanoi Department of Tourism, aims to increase tourism demand, promote the capital as an attractive and safe tourist destination, and support artisans and craft villages in the production of tourism gifts to serve domestic and foreign tourists efficiently and professionally.
The opening ceremony of the Hanoi Tourism Gift Festival 2023 was held on November 3 with the participation of Deputy Secretary of Hanoi Party Committee Nguyen Van Phong, Director of Vietnam National Tourism Administration Nguyen Trung Khanh, Director of Hanoi Tourism Department Dang Huong Giang and other delegates.
Nguyen Tan Phat, a lacquer artisan from Duong Lam Ancient Village in Son Tay town, who is running two exhibition booths at this year’s Tourism Gift Festival, said he has brought unique works of art to introduce tourists to the quintessence of the craft village and typical cultural features of the northern region. In addition, he will show gifts made of lacquer designs that have recently won awards, such as buffalo statues and chicken family sets.
A large number of children, foreign tourists and even adults showed interest in the figurine toys made of rice powder at the stall of To he, or Hanoi’s traditional children’s toys, by craftsman Dang Van Hau from Xuan La Village, Phu Xuyen District.
“I hope to he is not just a toy for children, but an interesting souvenir of Hanoi,” Hau told The Hanoi Times.
According to the artisan, To he used to have a very short lifespan because they were made from completely handmade materials. Since 2014, Hau has been experimenting with additives mixed into the dough to make the to he “live” longer and thus go further.
Through the skilled hands of the talented artisan, in just a few minutes, colorful lumps of dough are transformed into unique works of art: storks, truncated cones, the 12 Chinese zodiac animals, five fruit bowls, peacocks, phoenixes, the quarrel of the six beasts, a pair of ancient shoes, money toads, the four holy beasts, and others. They are all valuable yet affordable handmade products, suitable as souvenirs.
Meanwhile, artisan Nguyen Van Su, head of the Association of Handicraft, Ancient and Cultural Villages (Hanoi Tourism Association), said he would introduce hundreds of products made of horns from Thuy Ung craft village in Thuong Tin District. They include many new gifts, such as jewelry or beauty and health care tools.
“Tourists’ demands are changing day by day, so gift products are also being innovated and redesigned by artisans,” Su said.
According to Nguyen Thi Lan, owner of ULan Handmade, a shop specializing in crochet, the Hanoi Tourism Gift Festival is an excellent opportunity for gift makers to reach out to large numbers of tourists and help introduce and promote the capital’s diverse gifts.
More bridges in need
According to tourism experts, for many years, the numerous handicraft villages in Vietnam, and especially in Hanoi, have been producing undifferentiated products for tourists to buy as gifts, thus failing to stimulate spending.
Phung Quang Thang, vice chairman of the Vietnam Travel Association, said Hanoi has 1,350 handicraft villages, of which more than 300 are recognized as traditional handicraft villages, but the gifts from these villages do not have a noticeable presence in tourist areas and destinations. At present, the products promoted and introduced to tourists are very stereotyped without much creativity. Many designs still follow the old style, with few improvements or upgrades, so they are unattractive to tourists.
Craftsman Nguyen Van Su explained that there is no shortage of good craftsmen in handicraft villages, and they always share the spirit of hard work. However, they are confined to traditional designs and lack creative innovation to improve their products.
“We really hope to work with artists and designers to create new models of gifts for the capital,” Su said.
Meanwhile, lacquer artisan Nguyen Tan Phat believed gift products from handicraft villages and home workshops have yet to reach consumers, partly due to a lack of promotion and connection with tourist destinations.
To improve the quality of the city’s gift products and thus increase tourist demand, Hanoi has organized many creative gift product design competitions in recent years, as well as the annual Tourism Gift Festival, which serves as a bridge from craft villages and gift workshops to locals and tourists.
As confirmed by Dang Huong Giang, Director of the Hanoi Tourism Department, the department will work with localities to promote the development of handicraft village tourism, while building facilities to showcase their products and gifts to create attractive tourism highlights for the city.