Opportunity of a lifetime
By Pham Vu in HCMC
The Brangelina visit to Vietnam has been buzzing around the country and elsewhere in the world since last week. The trip was not announced and the schedule was kept secret but certainly the Jolie-Pitts did not try to keep a low profile this time. In fact, Jolie had a friendly attitude towards staff of Con Son airport when her family traveled to Con Dao Island and a photo session with them before departure. Just try googling a combination of keywords “Brad Pitt”, “Angelina Jolie”, “visit”, “Vietnam”, “November” and “2011”. The search will return more than 300,000 results. This once again indicates the great attention the media and the public both at home and abroad pay to the Hollywood couple.
Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and their six children arrived in HCMC Thursday night last week for a visit that ended Wednesday this week. And the 7-year-old Pax Thien had come back to Vietnam for the first time since the Jolie-Pitts adopted the Vietnamese-born son from an orphanage in HCMC in 2007.
The family of eight, including the couple, Cambodian-born Maddox, Ethiopian-born Zahara, Pax Thien, Shiloh, and twins Knox and Vivienne, lunched at a local restaurant, and flew with privately held carrier Air Mekong between HCMC and Con Dao where they had a six-day vacation at Six Senses Con Dao resort.
All what was associated with the Brangelina family during the visit became known locally and internationally. Cuc Gach Restaurant where they had lunch one day after their arrival in Vietnam. Air Mekong which they chose for their 45-minute flights between HCMC and Con Dao. Six Senses Con Dao resort off the southern coast province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau, 125km from HCMC, where they spent five days.
This will be actually the priceless opportunity for those entities to make a name in the country and the world over, and attract a lot of curious customers if they know how to take advantage of it. “There is a high possibility that the places where the Jolie-Pitts have been to will become favorite destinations for local and international tourists,” says the well-known local online newspaper VnExpress.
VnExpress goes on to say that the entertainment sections of local newspapers and news websites were occupied by images of the Brangelina family, and that “Vietnam” and “Con Dao” became popular keywords in international online media.
Overnight Vietnam became an oft-cited term in international media like AP, Reuters, BBC, Daily Mail, Radaronline, Popsugar and E! Online after the family visited Cuc Gach, according to the HCMC-based newspaper Phap Luat.
VietnamPlus, a news site of Vietnam news agency, reports that the “Day in Celebrities” section of USA Today newspaper carried a picture showing Jolie and her Vietnamese-born son Pax Thien leaving the restaurant in the country’s biggest city. The celeb website E! Online did the same with the photo, accompanied by an article in which Con Dao is described as “a popular vacation destination on Vietnam’s southern coast.”
Since news about the VND1.5 million (US$71) lunch for the entire family surfaced on November 11, all eyes have been on Cuc Gach. The manager of the restaurant told Phap Luat that out of curiosity many people have come to the eatery on Dang Tat Street in Binh Thanh District.
Tran Chien Binh, director of Teamwork Communications, told VnExpress that the restaurant could easily attract public attention following the couple’s visit. “The restaurant can do better if it makes the most of the Brangelina autography.”
Then Air Mekong and Six Senses stole the limelight when the media had an extensive coverage of the Jolie-Pitts, according to this newspaper. “Though international media has had no mention of ‘Air Mekong’, the airline’s brand name and logo on the plane used by Brangelina family to travel between HCMC and Con Dao can be seen in the published pictures,” comments the paper.
The celebrity couple’s visit to Con Son prison where political prisoners were tortured reminded people of Con Dao Island’s somber history. The notorious “tiger cages” Jolie and Pitt saw were used to shackle and starve the inmates by the French and then the Americans during the wars. The tranquil island is already a well-known destination for holidaymakers but this historical site will become a must-see place for many of those interested in the Brangelina.
There is no doubt that the sites Hollywood’s most powerful couple and their six children visit will become places of public interest, Nguyen Thanh Son, general director of the communications firm T&A Ogilvy, said on VnExpress.
A travel firm said that the Vietnam visit by the Jolie-Pitts provided the golden opportunity for not only the places they dropped by but also the country as a destination for tourists.
An official of the island district of Con Dao told Phap Luat that since August 2011 when the U.S. magazine Travel and Leisure announced Con Dao as one of the world’s 20 most mysterious islands, Con Dao has been in the news worldwide. Now the Brangelina vacation on Con Dao can be seen as the opportunity of a lifetime for the island and the country as a whole to spur tourism, said the official.
The Saigon Times Daily