Recently, when visiting Vietnam, Sweden’s Crown Princess, Victoria Ingrid Alice Desiree, and her husband took part in a morning exercise with local people alongside Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem Lake, while also enjoying a beef noodle bowl at an ordinary local restaurant in Ba Dinh district.
In February 2019, Argentine President Mauricio Macri also joined a walk and enjoyed coffee on Hanoi’s pavement. Before that, the image of former US President Barack Omaha and some other key figures enjoying the cuisine in popular cafes and restaurants in Hanoi have been published on famous media channels of the world.
These images speak many things. Hanoi may not be a prosperous city compared to many others in the world, but Hanoi possesses features that are not easy to obtain, with some of which are its friendliness, safety and peacefulness.
The title “City for Peace”, which UNESCO awarded to Hanoi 20 years ago, is an acknowledgment of such values, the recognition of international friends for efforts in equal community building, urban construction, preservation of living environments, cultural – education development, and taking care of civic education for locals and young generations of Hanoi in particular and Vietnam in general.
The title has contributed to improving the image of Hanoi in the international arena. Major international events have been held in Hanoi, such as the APEC Summit (2006), the World Economic Forum on ASEAN (2018) and most recently the second DPRK – US Summit (February 2019), affirming the positive contribution of Hanoi and Vietnam to international issues. Along with the cultural values, safety and friendliness also contribute to the attraction of the Vietnam’s capital city with domestic and foreign tourists.
Over the past two decades, the capital has developed strongly on many fronts, but it also faces multiple difficulties and challenges. The city government always strives to create a favourable living space and cultural life for its people, while mobilising them to join hands to build a civilised environment.
The city has invested heavily in urban infrastructure, with large and modern projects that not only connect the capital with other localities across the country, but also create an important economic corridor for neighbouring nations. The city has implemented a range of environmental protection projects, built wastewater treatment plants, and planted an additional one million trees.
In terms of education, for many years, Hanoi has been the leading flag of the education sector in the whole country. As “Heritage Capital”, in just the three years from 2016 to 2018, the city invested nearly VND1.4 trillion in renovating local monuments – the largest amount of investment in the country.
The title is the recognition for its values from an organisation, but for the brand, the recognition reaches a higher level with the recognition of the whole community. From the “City for peace” title, the Hanoi authorities and people have preserved and promoted it into the “Hanoi Brand” – a safe, friendly, peaceful and rich cultural destination.
The brand is being effectively exploited to become an important resource for development. In recent years, domestic and international tourism to Hanoi has increased strongly. In 2018, the city welcomed six million international tourists, making tourism a key economic sector for the capital.
Celebrating 20 years of Hanoi being honoured with the “City for Peace” title is an opportunity for it to reflect on the lesson of turning the “title” to “brand” and also review solutions to exploit that brand value. At the same time, it is also an opportunity for Hanoi to determine what to do to deserve the title and to preserve the brand.
Looking back, the milestone marks a very important occasion for the local government as well as Hanoians to put more effort and determination into preserving the noble title and maintaining the brand of a safe, friendly and hospitable destination of a thousand-year old civilised capital.