Members of the project "1st Hanoi", which provides free guidance for foreign tourists in the capital city / PHOTO COURTESY OF TIEN PHONG
A 22-year-old student has founded a project to provide foreign visitors with free tour guides in Hanoi, hoping that it will help make the Vietnamese capital city more worth revisiting for tourists.
The project, known as “1st Hanoi,” was initiated by Nguyen Van Son, a fourth-year student of telecommunications and marketing at Hanoi University of National Economics, Tien Phong (Pioneer) newspaper reported.
Every weekend, project members, most of whom are students, divide into groups operating around Hoan Kiem Lake, or Sword Lake, and the Old Quarter, the city’s most famous destinations. They volunteer to act as tour guides for any foreign tourist they meet.
Son told the newspaper that even though the guidance is free, it is not easy to gain the trust of tourists, because they likely think that the students are attempting to get something from them.
Even when tourists accept the guidance, if the students fail to do their job properly, it will also affect Vietnam’s image, he said.
Therefore, all the members were selected through recruitment during which they had to prove their English competence, knowledge about Hanoi, and other necessary skills, as well as their love for the city and desire to make contributions to it, according to the report.
They also attended training sessions led by Son, who is an experienced tour guide.
On the other hand, Son often looks for people with relevant experience and invites them to act as project consultants.
Besides the on-site guidance, the group is currently building a database to provide tourists with travel information about Hanoi, and plans to expand its activities to many other destinations, the newspaper reported.
The project aims to create give tourists good impressions of Hanoi, and meet their demands during their visits to the city, Son was quoted as saying.
He said he began nurturing the project during his second year in college.
He said at the time, seeking opportunities to sharpen his English speaking skills, he introduced himself on international travel forums, promising to provide foreign tourists with free guidance in Hanoi.
The plan worked, and that summer, he took foreign tourists on tours around the capital city every weekend.
“Receiving thanks, hugs and the happy looks of tourists, I felt Hanoi gradually grew in me,” said the student, who hails from the central province of Ha Tinh.
“I felt motivated to continue spreading my love for Hanoi to tourists, especially foreigners.”
Son’s desire was later strengthened by negative reports about rips-offs targeting foreign tourists, as well as those about foreigners who tried to stop local people from littering into the Red River on Long Bien Bridge.
“I couldn’t keep sitting still; I had to act,” said Son, who is also a famous Facebooker with passionate articles encouraging young people to get up and work with passion and independence, without fearing failure.
“Through the project, I want to prove that young people with their intelligence and youth can do big things,” he told Tien Phong.
“I also want show a beautiful image of the Vietnamese youth to international community. We are hospitable, friendly and active people.”
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