Việt Nam's Ambassador to India Phạm Sanh Châu travels on a Yak cow to the ever-frozen lake Tsomgo at the 3,753m above sea level. — Photo courtesy of the Embassy
Predestined relationship with Việt Nam
Referring to Kolkata - the third largest city of India (and former capital of British India) - is referring to a place which seems to have predestined relationships with Việt Nam.
Ambassador Phạm Sanh Châu said the image of President Hồ Chí Minh remained intact in the memories of the people in Kolkata who admired and respected him.
In 1911, he came here in the journey to salvage the nation. In 1946, he returned as the leader of a newly independent nation. In 1958, he visited Kolkata as the President of the young Democratic Republic of Việt Nam in the process of overcoming the consequences of war, building and fighting to unify the country.
In 1947, the people of Kolkata chose January 19 as Việt Nam Day here and two days later (January 21), thousands of students took to the streets to protest and support the Vietnamese government. The slogan was shouted by protesters at that time: "My name, your name, Vietnam, Vietnam".
Many anti-war songs and poems have been born since then, associated with this familiar slogan. Many Kolkata youths have fallen to claim independence for Việt Nam. During the war against the US, the articles supporting Việt Nam demanding peace and reunification were always hot in Indian newspapers.
In Kolkata, the love for Việt Nam and President Hồ Chí Minh was so great that people renamed a road to Ho Chi Minh Road by themselves.
Ten years later, in response to the people’s wholehearted aspirations, the government officially recognised this road.
In 1990, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birthday, the City Council and the India-Vietnam Solidarity Committee of West Bengal inaugurated a road named President Hồ Chí Minh - "Ho Chi Minh Sarani".
This road intersects with Jawaharlal Nehru Boulevard. It is the symbol of the friendship of the two great leaders Jawaharla Nehru - Hồ Chí Minh and the friendship of India and Việt Nam.
On that occasion, the West Bengal state government erected a bronze statue of Uncle Ho in the city park (located right at the intersection between Ho Chi Minh Boulevard and Jawaharlan Nehru Boulevard). Kolkata becomes the first foreign city in the world to build monument to Uncle Hồ.
Currently, at The Lalit Great Easten Hotel where Uncle Hồ stayed when he visited Kolkata for the first time on June 1, 1946, there was a sign placed in a dignified position saying: "Ho Chi Minh (1890-1969), Founder of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (now the Socialist Republic of Vietnam) was staying at The Lalit Great Easten Hotel on June 1, 1946”.
In 2016, at the Jadavpur University and the National Library in Kolkata, there was the opening ceremony of "Vietnam Book Corner".
It was a practical action that contributed to the promotion of the studies about the history and culture of Việt Nam by the Indian youths and students, thereby strengthening the cooperation between the two countries, especially in the context that the Indian government is promoting the implementation of the “Act East Policy”.
The Executive Director of National Library Dr. Arun Kumar Chakraborty said "Vietnam Corner" is a vivid symbol of people-to-people exchange, making an important contribution to promoting cooperation between the two countries, especially in the field of culture and education.
Direct flights to Kolkata
“India, a country with the world's second largest population, is now considered as a promising tourist market. Each year about 25 million Indians travel abroad and this trend has been increasing rapidly in recent years. However, the number of Indian visitors to Việt Nam is still small (over 130,000 Indian visitors to Việt Nam in 2018, while the number of Indian tourists to Thailand reached about 1.5 million). "- Ambassador Phạm Sanh Châu expressed his concern.
In March 2019, the Vietnamese Embassy in India contributed to convincing an Indian billionaire couple to hold their wedding at the J.W.Marriott Emerald Bay Hotel in Phú Quốc.
Ambassador Phạm Sanh Châu said: “The tourists all said that they were surprised because they did not think Việt Nam had such an impressive wedding venue. Việt Nam tourism is very diverse and attractive with variety of tourism products in different regions.”
One of the reasons the tourism potential of the two countries has not been fully exploited is that the flights from India to Việt Nam or vice versa have to be transited at other airports which cost time and money.
This will be overcome when IndiGo, an Indian Airline, opens direct flights from Kolkata to Hà Nội (on October 3) and to Hồ Chí Minh City (from October 18).
Mr. Châu said: "I believe that actively promoting tourism and opening direct flights between India and Việt Nam will turn Việt Nam into an attractive destination for Indian tourists."
Ambassador Phạm Sanh Châu shared that India is also promoting tourism in Việt Nam.
Indian Ambassador to Việt Nam Mr. Pranay Verma often talks about India's strengths such as natural and cultural heritage and religious diversity.
The architecture of temples, palaces and fortresses are great sculptures with high artistic value. In addition, tourism resources, especially Buddhist spiritual tourism, are very unique. Coming to India, visitors can experience Buddhist tourism, boating on the legendary Ganges river or climbing and skiing the Himalayas.
Besides, healthcare tourism and retreats, yoga programs are also great potential of India.
Many tour operators have launched attractive tours such as "Four Holy Places" by Gotadi, including four Buddhist sacred places, marking four important events in the life and teachings career of Buddha Shakyamuni. This tour with the support of Gotadi and Hương Giang Aviation, the representative of an Indian Airline IndiGo in Việt Nam, currently only cost VNĐ25 million for Vietnamese tourists.
As for Việt Nam tourism market, Ambassador Phạm Sanh Châu said: “I believe that from the view of an enterprise, the Indian tourist market with one of the largest population in the world is really a very attractive "piece of cake ".
The middle class of this billion-people-nation alone amounts to 200-300 million people, with annual increase in demand for shopping, recreation and tourism, from that point of view if being exploited successfully, this will be the "chicken laying golden eggs" for tourism in Việt Nam." — VNS