New tourism plan aims to make Mekong a world-class destination

The Mekong River winds through six Asian countries
The Mekong River winds through six Asian countries

Plans have been unveiled for new tourism marketing strategy that aims to transform the Greater Mekong sub-region (GMS) into a “world-class destination”.

Announced at a workshop in Bangkok supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism & Sports, the new action plan for the period 2015-2020 has the aim of increasing tourism arrival numbers and boosting the competitiveness of the GMS, which includes Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

The Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office’s executive director, Jens Thraenhart, said that key objectives of the plan include promoting secondary destinations and encouraging multi-country itineraries, especially those with themes such as ecotourism, local cuisine, and cultural appreciation.

“We encourage tourists to spread their spending beyond established locations such as Angkor Wat, the Grand Palace in Bangkok, and Yangon in Myanmar,” said Thraenhart.

Jens Thraenhart (top row, second right) with delegates at the Bangkok workshop
Jens Thraenhart (top row, second right) with delegates at the Bangkok workshop

Collaborative marketing tools will be made available, such as the MekongTourism.org digital platform, which will host a freely accessible online “knowledge centre” and GMS tourism e-library.

Thraenhart said he was optimistic that the plan would help raise the profile of the GMS as a “world-class destination”, which he says is defined by “improved air, land, and water connectivity, diverse tourism activities, increasingly convenient tourist visa policies, rapid advances in information technology, robust private investment, and a shift in source markets that is strongly influenced by increasing affluence in Asia”.

“The plan has the additional goals of marketing tourism products and services that help fight poverty and empower women,” Thraenhart added.

Over the last few years the GMS has been the fastest growing sub-region in Asia Pacific, with international visitor arrivals growing at a rate of around 17% per annum – significantly higher than the 11% average for the ASEAN region.

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