The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is aiming to encourage more tourists to take multi-country tours in the Mekong region.
In partnership with the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MCTO), the tourist board has started promoting a series of new tour routes connecting Thailand’s border provinces to Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. The TAT said recent improvements in regional infrastructure and border checkpoints are making even more itineraries possible.
“TAT has been playing a key role in building, promoting and facilitating the tourism industry of the GMS for nearly three decades, and this long-term effort is now starting to bear fruit,” said TAT governor, Thawatchai Arunyik.
“There is still a lot of work ahead to tap the region’s full potential, but we are confident that the spirit of cooperation will prevail in the interests of creating jobs, income and contributing to the alleviation of poverty. There is no doubt that travel and tourism will remain a major pillar of sub-regional economic, social and cultural development for many years into the future,” he added.
Six new routes are being promoted by the TAT and MCTO, under a series of themes. The first is said to trace the Tai civilisation in northern Thailand and Myanmar, while the second traverses eastern Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, including the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Hue and Hoi An.
Route three tracks the Khmer civilisation from Thailand to Siem Reap, while the fourth route uses the Mekong River to cruise between northern Thailand and Laos. The Mekong is also a feature of the fifth route in northeastern Thailand and Laos, including the Lao capital Vientiane, and the final sixth route connects eastern Thailand with southern Laos and Vietnam, from Ubon Ratchathani to Pakse and Ho Chi Minh City.
The move to connect the Mekong sub-region comes ahead of the onset of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, which is intended to boost trade and tourism throughout Southeast Asia.