The story below is written by Do Ngoc Olivier Dung, CEO of EZLand, in response to Tuoi Tre(Youth) newspaper’s ‘Ho Chi Minh City Goes Global’ contest.

Ho Chi Minh City and its close to 13 million people, eight million motorbikes, world-famous nerve wrecking street crossing at rush hour, fast-paced lifestyle, and noise and smells can be overwhelming similarly to other large cities in Southeast Asia but it is also what makes the city unique and magical.

It is that magic that needs to be conveyed to first-time visitors, tourists or business people. It is also needed for branding and marketing for the city. For that to materialize, many stakeholders need to come together, namely government agencies, the private sector, key players in tourism and hospitality, and the city as a whole.

Visitors will be mesmerized by the beauty of the Saigon River and traditional boats and barges passing by, just to then be put off by the plastic and pollutants floating on the river.

The Saigon River is truly unique yet not enough places and activities are taking advantage of it to offer unique experiences to visitors. Such experiences can be centered on the city’s natural beauty as well as the connectivity it can offer.

Ho Chi Minh City is a multicultural city with a rich history combining modern and traditional Vietnamese architecture with old French buildings with great parks, fast modernizing infrastructure, and beautiful tree-lined avenues.

It is today one of the most dynamic business cities in Asia and home to a vibrant entrepreneurship and work spirit fostering constant novelty and innovation.

Visitors can also be exposed to many cultures and religions, from Cho Lon to Buddhist and Indian temples, Caodaism and its French-designed Notre-Dame cathedral, all living in what seems to be a constantly moving flow, a city that never sleeps.

Add to that great local markets with thousands of scents in one of the most diverse and delicious street food and restaurant cultures in Asia, together with a fast-developing and very creative local art scene. Most importantly, the people of Ho Chi Minh City who whether were born here or come from other parts of the country, expatriates or Viet Kieu like myself all help form an amazing mosaic of cultures and are the heart and pulse of this city. It is the people of Ho Chi Minh City who make the city so unique, in good times but also in times of crisis as the current pandemic has shown. It is also their warmth and kindness that can be extended to visitors.

As a personal perspective, Ho Chi Minh City as a city has so much to offer to the world as a place to visit again and again but we need to position it distinctively to the outside world in what makes it unique and exciting. Only then can we make sure that the whole eco-system delivers on its promise.

I believe the ‘Ho Chi Minh City Goes Global’ contest is exciting and very timely and would encourage everyone to participate with their input and ideas.

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