Vietnam's first tourism ambassador won't seek another term

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Ly Nha Ky (R) and handicapped people in Ho Chi Minh City voting for Ha Long Bay to be named one of the seven natural wonders of the world via SMS messages in November 2012

Ly Nha Ky, Vietnam's former and first tourism ambassador announced on March 14 that she is withdrawing from the election that was likely to grant her a second term.

An actress and businesswoman, Ky, who was born Tran Thi Thanh Nhan, cited health concerns in a press release, saying that during the time she served as tourism ambassador she suffered from libelous remarks, which had seriously damaged her reputation, as well as that of her family.

"When I took the position, some supported me and some did not. They even tried to hurt me in different ways. But I tried my best not to betray the trust and expectations of the Vietnamese people and leaders," she said.

Ky also said she is happy to have contributed to make people more interested in promoting the country's image to the world as well as in help raising the public's awareness of the tourism industry.

She said she hoped that the country would find a more appropriate person who can meet expectations of all people and said that she will be happy to give assistance in promoting the country's tourism any time.

Ky, 30, was appointed to be first tourism ambassador of Vietnam in 2011 by the Department of International Cooperation of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Director of the department, Nguyen Van Tinh, explained that Ky had been chosen for her language skills, fame, and unconditional devotion to local tourism.

But the decision to appoint her was later described by the Ministry as a hasty one that created controversy among the public.

When Ky was chosen, she was strongly criticized for having exposed her breasts in a play broadcast live in commemoration of General Vo Nguyen Giap and the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, and for exaggerating her "quite important role" in the Hollywood movie "Shanghai" when she only appeared in the film for a few seconds.

Nevertheless, Ky went on to be highly evaluated for the work she did as tourism ambassador.

During her time in the position, Ky succeeded in promoting Ha Long Bay already recognized as a world heritage site to be named one of the seven new natural wonders of the world by the Switzerland-based New7Wonders Foundation in November last year

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When her term ended early this year, Tinh even said that he thought it would be difficult to find someone to replace her.

He recently said the last-second withdrawal of Ky was quite shocking as she had been excited to run for the position for the 2013-2014 term and that she was most likely to win the election.

On February 28, when the selection campaign for the second term ended, Ky and Miss Tourism Vietnam 2012 Huynh Thi Ngoc Han, who had nominated herself for the position, topped the list of candidates.

In a survey conducted by reporters on March 13, Ky received 70 percent of the votes.

In the meantime, the department is continuing to collect opinions on who should be the country's next tourism ambassador from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism and other travel agencies to be submitted to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said Tinh.

"If most of the ideas involve choosing Ly Nha Ky, we will try to persuade her take the spot. But if she has made up her mind [not to be the ambassador], we have to respect her decision," he added.

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