HANOI -- On a Sunday afternoon at a downtown cinema in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, a seemingly endless line of people were queuing to buy tickets for "Kong: Skull Island."
People, young and old, aged 13 and up, seemingly did not mind waiting for a long time. They were excited about the movie not only because it is a Hollywood blockbuster, but also because the movie, which was shot in Vietnam, would showcase scenes taken in popular tourist attractions in northern Ninh Binh, Quang Ninh and central Quang Binh provinces.
"Kong: Skull Island" was shot at numerous heritage sites throughout Vietnam, such as the Unesco World Heritage Site Ha Long Bay in Quang Ninh, Tam Coc-Van Long Natural Reserve, Trang An Complex in Ninh Binh, as well as the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park located in Quang Binh.
The movie, which tells the story of a group of explorers who go into the jungle to discover the birthplace of the lord of giant apes, officially hit cinemas in Vietnam and worldwide last Friday. It has earned 142 million US dollars worldwide, with generally positive reviews from professional critics and audiences.
Catching on the boost that Kong can provide to Vietnamese tourism, the country's Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Nguyen Ngoc Thien, last Friday officially appointed Jordan Vogt-Roberts, director of "Kong: Skull Island," as Vietnam's new official tourism ambassador.
Vogt-Roberts will hold the position from 2017-2020 during which he will be responsible for promoting Vietnamese tourism through newspapers, art, photography and other forms of media.
As scheduled, after traveling to Vietnam and accepting the appointment on Monday, Vogt-Roberts has become the first foreign tourism ambassador of Vietnam, in a move seen as a concerted effort by the country to promote its tourism.
In an interview with local media, Vogt-Roberts expressed his hope that the film will encourage more people to visit Vietnam. But he said he is mindful of both the advantages and potential pitfalls.
"It became my mission to put this country on screen and to let the world know how spectacular it is," Vogt-Roberts said.
Meanwhile, Quang Ninh province, where Ha Long Bay is located, also seeks to take advantage of opportunities the American blockbuster may bring to its tourism industry.
The film helps promote the image of Ha Long Bay and Vietnam to the world, said Doan Anh Linh, head of the travel management division at the provincial Department of Tourism. Linh accompanied the film crew on their location scouting trip around the bay.
The department plans to offer free tickets to the premier screening of the movie to tour operators and hand out brochures on Ha Long Bay during the screening, Linh noted, adding that more measures will be adopted to introduce Ha Long Bay to the world.
At the same time, Vice Chairman of the Ha Long City People's Committee, Vu Hong Son, said the provincial administration has been renovating infrastructure at local tourist hotspots to welcome the increased number of travelers expected to visit the city after the movie opens worldwide.
Ninh Binh province also plans to beef up tourism at places where the movie was shot. According to Hoang Thanh Phong, deputy director of the provincial Department of Tourism, Ninh Binh will partner with Trang An Complex operator, Xuan Truong Company, to rebuild one of the film sets and turn it into a tourist destination.
In a related move, Hanoi authorities on Monday decided to build a model introducing "Kong: Skull Island" to boost the capital city's tourism.
Proposed by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the 3D model will be constructed before April 5 at an outstanding location on walking streets around Hanoi's Sword Lake, dubbed the "heart of Hanoi" to capitalize on the movie being a "hot" release. (PNA)
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