The tourism sector was designated as one of the 11 flagship programs of the GMS Economic Cooperation Program in recognition of the important contribution it could make toward socio-economic development and the conservation of natural and cultural heritage resources.
The GMS tourism strategy was elaborated under ADB technical assistance, at the request of the 6 countries to prepare within the overall 10 year GMS strategic framework, a strategy to optimize the benefits of sub regional tourism in a more environmentally and socially responsible manner.
The tourism industry in the GMS is booming, studies show it is the fastest growing destination in the world. Between 2004, when the GMS TS was elaborated, and 2006 the number of tourist arrivals increased by 26%, with an impressive 61% growth for Cambodia and 55% for Yunnan and Guangxi together (PATA source). 2007 will reach new records with for example a 37 % increase in Lao PDR during the first 10 months of 2007 over the similar period of 2006.
The common goal of all countries and tourism operators of all kinds is to earn more from tourism and over a long period of time. The main strategy to achieve this, and sometimes the only one, is to increase the numbers of arrivals, but the best way is rather to increase the share of higher yield markets, increase their spending by developing quality products they are willing to buy, that will incite them to stay longer and even more importantly, to come back. This is what the strategy is willing to achieve.
“To develop and promote the Mekong as a single destination, offering a diversity of good quality and high yielding sub regional products that helps to distribute the benefits of tourism more widely; add to the tourism development efforts of each country, by fostering a sustainable tourism development approach, by contributing to poverty reduction, gender equality and empowerment of women, while minimizing any adverse impacts.”
The strategy is articulated around 7 core programs; marketing, human resource development, heritage conservation and mitigation of negative impacts, pro poor tourism, private sector participation, facilitation of travel, tourism development in priority zones. These 7 core programs are declined into 29 projects including 16 thematic projects and 13 geographical projects.
To support the current trend for multi country tourism in the GMS by stimulating demand from high yield markets through appropriate product development and joint promotional activities.
Minimum conditions for private-sector participation in the consumer-facing ExploreMekong.org website and booking engine are:
• Provide allocation and Best Available Rate (BAR) for lowest cost room types.
• Provide one prize per calendar year for a draw. Minimum prize should include two nights of accommodation for two people.
Banner advertising opportunities are also available.
For details on how to build business on ExploreMekong.org, please email email@example.com.
To upgrade the skills of tourism managers and tourism trainers to ensure that the strategy can be implemented and that the tourism institutions deliver quality training so that qualified staff is in place to face and manage tourism demand from high yield markets.
To promote higher standards in the management of natural and cultural resources to maintain the value of what are the core tourism assets of the GMS, and
To strengthen socially responsible practices necessary to limit the negative impacts which uncontrolled tourism growth generates
To promote patterns of tourism development that help reduce the incidence of poverty and increase economic opportunities and incomes for the poorest through their empowerment.
To facilitate private sector participation and partnerships in planning, investment and marketing.
To address impediments to travel to and within the GMS
To jointly plan and develop tourism infrastructures in 13 identified GMS priority zones and circuits to better spread the benefits of tourism.
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