Lower barriers, strengthened links could boost Mekong tourism: official

January 8, 2015 1:48 am 

VIENTIANE, Jan. 7 — Better coordination between neighboring countries to promote package tourism across the fast- growing Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) could spread benefits, state-run media Vientiane Times reported Wednesday.

The Greater Mekong Sub-region consists of China's Yunnan Province, as well as Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

Speaking to Vientiane Times, Director General of the Laos' Tourism Marketing Department Saly Phimphinith called for more opportunities for tourism sector operators and regulators to meet and discuss promising prospects.

"We need to arrange more events or meetings to allow more tour companies from the six countries to meet and discuss how to cooperate in organizing package tours among member countries," he was reported as saying.

The call comes after leaders and high-level representatives of the six countries met at the 5th GMS Summit in Bangkok, Thailand last month.

At that meeting, it was agreed that more multi-country tourism packages could be organized to boost visitor numbers in the region.

Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam have agreed in principle to establish a single visa to facilitate package tourism of this nature through the "Five Countries, One Destination" concept launched in 2005.

Thailand and cambodia launched a single-visa pilot project in late 2012.

However, the visa has not been as popular as expected, which has been attributed to the fact that it is more time consuming to obtain, taking three days for approval.

According to figures quoted in the Vientiane Times, International tourist arrivals in GMS countries are increasing by more than 12 percent per year, generating close to 50 billion U.S. dollars in receipts in 2013.

The 2015 Mekong Tourism Forum will be held in Danang, Vietnam from June 16-19. (PNA/Xinhua)

FPV/SSC

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