March 26, 2013
Big Game Hunting was Used to Promote Tourism in Pre-War Vietnam
By Chad Love
Did you know big game hunting was used to promote tourism in Vietnam before the war?
From this interesting story on theatlantic.com:
Before Vietnam became synonymous to 1970s Americans with a seemingly endless war, it might have conjured images of French wines and big game hunting. In the early 1960s, the U.S. government tried to encourage tourism in Vietnam in elsewhere in Southeast Asia as a sort of travel diplomacy. "Tourism's proper development, it was believed, could serve important U.S. geostrategic objectives," writes University of Minnesota history professor Scott Laderman in his 2009 book Tours of Vietnam: War, Travel Guides, and Memory. Friendly American faces could soften the reputation of the U.S. overseas, it was thought, and their souvenir purchases might bolster emerging economies.
According to the story, in 1961 the U.S. government may or may not have published (it's not clear who actually funded it) a travel brochure designed to lure American tourists to Vietnam with the prospect of, among other things, big-game hunting.
From the story:
"...What's more, "Vietnam is a hunter's paradise," the brochure claims, with plentiful game that includes, "elephant, tiger, leopard, wild buffalo bear, deer, and pheasant." A fee for killing "wild and harmful beasts" would set one back $22."
A pre-war "License A" in Vietnam would set you back $4,800 Vietnamese piastres ($68) and for that you would be allowed to shoot one bull elephant, four bears, six deer, two oxen, two gaurs, and two buffalo, plus a small royalty or kill fee on anything you actually tagged. I'm assuming that tigers, as wild and harmful beasts, would be a bargain at $22. Here's a link to a scanned copy of the actual brochure. As an historical document, it's a pretty fascinating window into a country, a culture and a time that for most of us in virtually unknown beyond the war experience.
Anyone have any experience, stories, or information on pre-war hunting opportunities in Vietnam and SE Asia? We'd love to hear about it.