This unfavorable response underscores the ongoing difficulties in effectively promoting Vietnamese culinary arts.

The event, which aimed to celebrate Vietnamese cuisine, was held at the Reunification Palace in District 1 from October 20 to 22.

The festival aimed to attract both locals and foreigners to explore and appreciate Vietnamese cuisine.

However, it fell short of its objectives in promoting Vietnam’s culinary heritage.

The festival was jointly organized by the Ho Chi Minh City Tourism Association, the Saigon Professional Chefs Association, and the Vietnam Culinary Conservation, Research, and Development Center.

One vendor, L., shared her experience at the festival. Due to a lack of personal supervision, she entrusted her employees with setting up her booth, only to discover chaos when she visited after the opening ceremony.

The Reunification Palace, a prominent landmark in Ho Chi Minh City covering a vast area of 120,000 square meters, had ample space to accommodate numerous stalls.

However, the conditions inside were disorganized, with wooden boards placed on muddy grass, confusing pathways between stalls, and many visitors passing by the booths without stopping.

Another issue was the lack of regional specialties and authenticity among the nearly 100 stalls. The festival failed to showcase the true diversity of Vietnamese cuisine.

C., an executive of a beverage company, expressed disappointment, saying, “As an entrepreneur, I anticipated this event to be an opportunity for us to promote our products, but most of the stalls were operated by unknown individuals.”

Despite its central location, the festival lacked well-equipped restroom facilities.

A successful event necessitates a venue that meets certain standards, including spaciousness and excellent infrastructure, to ensure convenience for both vendors and visitors.

The inconvenience led to financial losses for stall operators who had to pay a daily rental fee of VND5 million (US$203), along with additional expenses.

According to the organizers, there are no plans to reduce these fees, except for a 50-percent discount for participants in the next Ho Chi Minh City Tourism Association festivals.

With its rich food culture, diverse culinary traditions, and abundant natural resources, Vietnamese cuisine has the potential to become a global ambassador for the country’s tourism industry.

To achieve this, Vietnam needs a strategic vision.

A representative from Saigontourist Group, with extensive experience in hosting Vietnamese cuisine events worldwide, emphasized the importance of selecting the right venue and offering only the most renowned dishes that truly represent Vietnamese flavors.

A food festival should be a harmonious combination of culinary and cultural elements, providing visitors with a comfortable environment to savor dishes while learning about their historical significance and unique characteristics.

Key information, including brand names, store addresses, names of artisans or chefs, and reasonable prices, must be clearly displayed at stalls.

Ho Chi Minh City regularly hosts various fairs and food festivals at different levels, with Vietnamese food being a prominent product promoted by the tourism industry.

However, it is evident that countries like Thailand and South Korea organize food festivals more professionally in terms of food quality and event standards.

A ‘festival’ should offer visitors an engaging travel and culinary experience, not just what can be found at a typical fair.

Delicious food often serves as a major attraction for tourists, so organizers should not disappoint them with an underwhelming experience.