“12 December 1911 saw the opening of the South Indochina Tourist Office, sponsored by Monsieur Ernest Outrey, Résident-supérieur in Cambodia and Delegate-general of the Touring Club of France in Indo-China.
Saigon, capital of Cochinchina, indeed promises in future to be an important centre of tourism. Thanks to propaganda activity which began four years ago (though as yet, unfortunately, does not have any worthy means of implementation), there is hope that, despite the distance, tourists will eventually come to prefer Indochina over Egypt.
Our ruins of Angkor, the beauty of which has been celebrated in the illustrations of Loti, are certainly not inferior to the Pyramids. No scenery along the Nile Valley may be compared to our Halong Bay, with its picturesque rocks seeming from a distance to be gigantic statues of sea gods. Our imperial tombs of Hue give an impression of melancholic grandeur at least equal to that of the sarcophagi and mummies of ancient Egypt. Our climate, from December to March, is inoffensive and sweet. And our big game hunts (tiger, elephant and wild buffalo) and our autoroute network, flat and smooth as a billiard table, are unique throughout the Far East.”
From Le Courrier Saigonnais, 1 March 1912
Tim Doling is the author of the walking tour guidebook Exploring Hồ Chí Minh City (Nhà Xuất Bản Thế Giới, Hà Nội, 2014) and also conducts Saigon and Chợ Lớn Heritage Tours.
A full index of all Tim’s blog articles since November 2013 is now available here.
Join the Facebook group pages Saigon-Chợ Lớn Then & Now to see historic photographs juxtaposed with new ones taken in the same locations, and Đài Quan sát Di sản Sài Gòn – Saigon Heritage Observatory for up-to-date information on conservation issues in Saigon and Chợ Lớn.