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Mekong tourism


What’s new in Mekong tourism?

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eTN Staff writer  Dec 20, 2007

MEKONG TOURISM OFFICE DEFINES PRIORITIES
The Mekong Tourism Office has announced its new marketing plan, 2008-2011. The MTO's senior advisor, Mr. Peter Semone, told Great Mekong Subregion (GMS) member countries that the priorities would be to consolidate resources, build credibility and win the confidence of the private sector over three phases of activity. Addressing delegates of the GMS Tourism Working Group Ad-hoc Meeting in Vientiane on December 3, he recommended that phase I of the plan should include: 1) appointing a country coordinator for Mekong activities in each member NTO 2) upgrading the MTO's website 3) creating a Mekong Travel Planner for travel agents 4) presenting MTO at international events 5) facilitating sub-regional networking activities 6) enhancing the MTO member database 7) improving monthly updates to all stakeholders 8) holding regular private sector advisory meetings, and 9) carrying out market research. Mr. Semone told the 35 delegates that it was important for the MTO to get the basics right. "Later phases should include GDS engagement, social website capabilities with search engine optimization, media familiarization trips, re-establishing the Mekong Tourism Forum, and a visit GMS year," he said.

MEKONG RIVER DISCOVERY TRAIL A STEP CLOSER
The last 80 or so river dolphins in the Mekong River are at the heart of an ambitious development program to tackle poverty and attract tens of thousands of visitors to two of the poorest provinces of Cambodia. The Mekong River Discovery Trail Project will draw visitors to view the endangered fresh water dolphin which lives in 10 deep water natural pools in a 190-km stretch of the Mekong River, mostly between the quiet provincial capitals of Kratie and Stung Treng. The main objective of the Discovery Trail is poverty alleviation. About 50 percent of all households in Stung Treng and 30 percent of those in Kratie live on less than US$1 a day. "The Mekong River Discovery Trail Project aims to bring about sustainable pro-poor tourism that helps develop Northeast Cambodia," says Dr. Harsh Varma, Director of Development Assistance Department of the World Tourism Organization.

DEVELOPMENT LESSONS FROM LAOS
The Lao National Tourism Administration issued advice to destinations seeking to successfully implement tourism related infrastructure projects, pro-poor tourism initiatives and sub-regional cooperation. Addressing the ADB-Mekong Tourism Development Project meeting in Vientiane on December 3, Mr. Thavipheth Oula, Deputy Director, LNTA, advised destinations to 1) secure senior political support from the top 2) encourage project teams to learn from small mistakes (to avoid big ones) 3) practice what they preach by using local products and services 4) measure success and failure through systematic monitoring (but don't make monitoring the main focus of the project) 5) recruit a project team that is able to live and work happily and effectively with local stakeholders 6) subcontract technical tasks as necessary, and 7) employ rolling work plans and data-based decision-making. Mr. Thavipheth said such techniques had been successful in implementing programs such as the Luang Namtha airport improvements, Konglor Cave and Kuang Si Waterfall access road upgrades, and community-based tourism initiatives in four provinces.

HOW MUCH DOES TOURISM REALLY HELP THE POOR?
Measuring the impact of tourism 'value chain' developments was the theme of an international conference that took place in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, December 12-13. The event was organized by the International Finance Corporation and SNV Netherlands Development Organization. For further information and outcome details contact snvcam@yahoo.com or arossetto@ifc.org.

CAN THO CITY LAUNCHES VISIT YEAR 2008
Can Tho city 170 km from Ho Chi Minh City in the Mekong Delta will celebrate "Visit Can Tho Year" throughout 2008. A week of festivities takes place February 21-27 and is followed by a festival of lanterns and garlands (April 29), boat racing (April 30), a fresh fruit festival (May 5-11), and ethnic music and dance (July 4-11). The city also plans to host tourism workshops and to enhance road and air access during the year. Can Tho, with a population of 1.2 million, is the biggest city in the Mekong Delta.

SEARCH FOR MEKONG EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CONTINUES
The Mekong Tourism Office will continue its search for a regional executive director. The GMS countries meeting on December 3 decided to extend the search until March 31, 2008 and extend the contract of its current senior advisor, Mr. Peter Semone, until mid-2008. Applicants for the Bangkok-based job should e-mail info@MekongTourism.org.

GMS TRAVEL NEWS AT A GLANCE
Vietnam is forecast to receive 4.3 million tourists this year. The four-millionth tourist arrived on December 6 and was given a bouquet of flowers at Hanoi airport. Vietnam attracted 250,000 visitors in 1990 and is seeking six million by 2010.

Bangkok-based PB Air has launched a daily flight from Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi to Mae Hong Son in far northwest Thailand. The codeshare flight with THAI will run until March 2008.

Thailand is paying 70 percent of an estimated US$6.2 million to extend the railway network from Nong Khai in Thailand across the Friendship Bridge into Laos near Vientiane. The connection is due for completion in 2008.

The Myanmar Tourism Promotion Board welcomes travel buyers, travel writers and photographers to join familiarisation trips in 2008. The nine-day and five-day tours cost US$595 and US$434 and depart on fixed dates. Further information and application forms.

Nok Air has launched inclusive packages from Bangkok to Hanoi and Halong Bay in Vietnam. The three-day package on a twin-sharing basis is 12,500 baht (US$368). A four-day version is 15,000 baht (US$441).

Source: MekongTourism.org

What’s new in Mekong tourism?



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