Vietnam is doing everything it can to remind the world that it gave the successful Hollywood movie the ‘perfect’ set.
“Kong: Skull Island,” the latest reboot of the giant mythical ape, is possibly the strongest boost Vietnam’s tourism industry has ever received.
The movie is the first major Hollywood film set in Vietnam, bringing to the big screen some of the country’s most remote and beautiful parts – from colossal caves in the central province of Quang Binh to a mesmerizing lagoon in the northern province of Ninh Binh and the world-renowned Ha Long Bay.
Its cast and crew have expressed their love for the “gorgeous” and “surreal” country, which has just appointed director Jordan Vogt-Roberts as an official tourism ambassador until 2020.
Now it’s Vietnam’s turn to make sure the Kong effect does not fall flat.
"Kong: Skull Island" poster
Tran Nhat Hoang, deputy director of the International Cooperation Department at the tourism ministry, said it has negotiated a deal with the film's producers to use images from the $185 million production for tourism promotion campaigns.
Hoang said the images can be used to promote tours to where the film was shot.
Vietnam's natural beauty gives the country a big advantage, and all it needs is to adopt better policies to cooperate with Hollywood producers, he said.
He said the agency has received invitations from Hollywood to meet with potential partners for future projects.
Quang Ninh Province, home to Ha Long Bay, plans to promote destinations that appear in the Kong reboot using short videos from the movie.
To start with, tourists who log in to free local Wi-Fi will be shown a three-second flash featuring Ha Long.
Ninh Binh Province, where a number of locals appeared in the film as extras, has asked tour guides in Van Long Lagoon and Trang An-Tam Coc, a complex of mountains and rivers, to include information in their tours about how the blockbuster was filmed.
Hoang Thanh Phong, deputy director of the province’s tourism department, said it would think about setting up a village resembling the “Asian village” in the movie at Trang An, but will first need approval from UNESCO as Trang An is a world heritage site.
Quang Binh Province is already planning tours to some of the areas where the film was shot. “Tu Lan: Experience home of Kong” will be launched soon, taking tourists to the beautiful Phong Nha, Tu Lan and To Mo caves.
Last January, the province also released a video promoting itself as an exciting destination, reminding viewers that it was the set for the blockbuster and featuring the testimony of the director himself.
There is an official Quang Binh tourism website in English which highlights the must-try destinations and services in the province.
Nguyen Chau A, vice chairman of Quang Binh's Tourism Association who worked with the film crew, said Vietnam could have made better use of the Hollywood brand.
He said authorities could have reduced certain taxes and fees for the crew and persuaded them to produce exclusive commercials featuring the stars of the movie. “They would be very useful promotional tools as each movie star has millions of fans.”