A new tourism marketing strategy and action plan for the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) is to be confirmed at the coming Mekong Tourism Forum which will take place from June 14 to June 18 at the Novotel Danang Premier Han River. Danang is Central Vietnam largest city and a proud host to the coming forum. Danang recorded in 2014 over 800,000 international visitors.
Preparatory works and consultations on the strategy and action plan were already organized last February at a meeting supported by the Asian Development Bank and the Thailand Ministry of Tourism and Sports which involved the participation of tourism leaders from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam.
The plan covers the period 2015 to 2020 and has the aim of increasing tourism arrival numbers and boosting the competitiveness of the GMS as measured by the World Economic Forum’s Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index.
Among the tasks being attributed to the Mekong Tourism Coordination Office over the period 2015-2020 are the development of multi-country tourism circuits and the promotion secondary destinations. Both tasks have a same target. Spreading the benefits of tourism to new communities by reaching remote or unexposed areas left in the shadow of already well-established destinations.
“We are glad that the six member countries forming the GMS have recognized the need to further spread tourism benefits to new communities by highlighting secondary or even tertiary destinations. The creation of theme multi-country tourism circuits will indeed allow to anchor these less-know destinations to current GMS tourism icons”, tells MTCO Executive Director Jens Thraenhart.
“The GMS is one of the fastest growing regions for tourism in Asia and the Pacific with average annual growth rate of 17%, a rate far higher than the 11% average annual growth recorded by the whole ASEAN. Although tourism has largely contributed to lift out of poverty a large number of people living in the region, they are also a risk factor of over-concentration in just a few iconic places and consequently a risk for a loss of identity and authenticity. We must work now alternative strategies to ensure the sustainability of tourism activities in the region”, he adds.
The Mekong Tourism Forum 2015 in Danang will be an opportunity to discuss strategies, promotional marketing as well as presenting potential multi-country tours. Five to six itineraries have already been identified.They will be linked to themes stressing the peculiar identity of the countries along the Mekong River. The objective is to encourage 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.
The new plan includes collaborative marketing tools such as the MekongTourism.org digital platform. Totally revamped, the new website will be presented at the MTF. Among the new tools integrated to the digital platform are a freely accessible online knowledge center and GMS tourism e-library.
Thraenhart said he was optimistic that the marketing plan would help further raise the profile of the GMS as a world-class destination, which is increasingly 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.
He added: “The plan has the additional goals of marketing tourism products and services that help fight poverty and empower women.”