Hanoi, Vietnam – As Vietnam’s capital gears up to host the second US-North Korea summit, it’s not just the beefed-up security, sold-out hotels and fluttering flags across Hanoi that are marking the occasion.
Bars are also serving drinks dubbed “Peace Negroniations”, inspired by the popular Negroni cocktail; stores are selling T-shirts bearing Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un’s faces; and even hairdressers are offering free cuts to those eager to replicate the hairstyles of the respective leaders of the United States and North Korea.
With preparations for the February 27-28 talks in full swing, the overall mood on the jam-packed streets of Hanoi appears to be a mix of awe and pride – even if, for some, the furore and attention surrounding the summit is an unwelcome distraction from everyday life.
“I deliver my products door-to-door in the city,” Vu Van Dong, a 28-year-old farmer, told Al Jazeera.
“Since the streets will be blocked off for the summit, it will have a negative impact on my business. But I still support hosting it as it will keep the world a safer place.”
According to Phuong Hoa Nguyen, a deputy director at Vietnam’s Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism, the effects of playing hosts to not only Trump and Kim, but also to the media circus coming to town, would allow the country to showcase its “dynamic development with a model of successful socioeconomic innovation, friendly people, rich cultural identity and heroic history”.
“This is a great opportunity to promote Vietnam as an attractive and safe destination for tourism and investment,” Nguyen told Al Jazeera.
“We aim to attract 18 million international tourists in 2019 with a modest budget of $2m for promotional activities.”
Nguyen acknowledged it was “difficult” to gauge how much Vietnam stood to benefit financially from the much-anticipated meeting, held eight months after the landmark summit between Trump and Kim in Singapore last year.
“Singapore invested about 20 million Singaporean dollars ($14.8m) towards organising the first Trump-Kim summit and earned nearly 40 times that amount towards its economy,” Nguyen said.
But in addition to monetary benefits, the spotlight and excitement accompanying the high-profile talks were “invaluable” to Vietnam, Nguyen added.
In preparation for the upcoming two-day talks, which will be held at a yet-to-be announced location, security at the airport has been raised to the highest level. Additional security officials have also been positioned in public and restricted areas across Hanoi.