By SUCHAT SRITAMA
SENIOR TOURISM officials from the five nations in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region have announced a joint plan to develop Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand (CLMVT) as a single destination, highlighting the countries’ similarities as well as their
Addressing the recent “CLMVT Link: Prosper Together” conference, the multi-nation representatives said they would work together in boosting and developing unique products located in the five countries as new attractions for intra-regional tourists, as well as to more distant markets like Europe, Australia and the US.
Yuthasak Supasorn, governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, said a number of issues needed to be tackled urgently in order to achieve the common goal, including marketing development, connectivity, and common action plans.
If all five countries could press ahead in these fields, the region could become a new single destination, he said.
“I would recommend three areas: first we must set a common goal to promote CLMVT as a single destination; secondly, we should look at improving connectivity and linkages; and thirdly, we should look at turning our common goal into actions,” he added.
Tourism has become a key sector in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand, helping to drive each nation’s economy and attract foreign investment, but the five countries now also want to promote their traditions, culture, and natural and heritage sites.
The Greater Mekong Sub-region Economic Cooperation forum, initiated in 1992, has launched a strategic plan for 2015-2020 in order to strengthen river-based tourism through the Mekong River.
Since 2013, the sub-region has attracted more than 50 million international tourists, accounting for more than 3 per cent of the global market.
Over 60 per cent of the international visitors originated from Asia and the Pacific, led by travellers from China, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.
Manisakhone Thammavongxay, director of the Public Relations Division at the Information, Culture and Tourism Ministry in Laos, told the conference that all five countries would have a mutual understanding of the benefit of the CLMVT packages under a “five-countries-one-destination” ideal.
In reaching that goal, she said there was a need to increase transport connectivity among the Greater Mekong Sub-Region countries.
Vu Nam, deputy director-general of the Tourism Marketing Department at Vietnam’s National Administration of Tourism, said that apart from increasing transportation connections, the sub-region should look at encouraging more cooperation between tour agencies among the five countries, in order to promote joint tourism products.
The deputy director-general of Cambodia’s Tourism Ministry of, Try Chhiv, called for a sub-regional effort to enhance the branding of CLMVT not just for the similarities that the five countries share, but also for the uniqueness of each country.
Daw Khin Than Win, deputy director-general at the Hotels and Tourism Ministry in Myanmar agreed, proposing the need to encourage more low-cost carrier connections between countries, as well as the opening of more border checkpoints with enhanced flexibility.