ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Greater Mekong to attract more tourists
The GMS is also looking at US$52 billion in revenue, reports the Lao news agency (KPL).
In 2010 members of the six-country GMS Tourism Working Group revived the Mekong Tourism Forum as one of the subregion's flagship events to promote emerging Mekong destinations and serve as a platform to exchange knowledge on sustainable tourism.
With the assistance of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), a strategy has been developed by Cambodia, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Yunnan Province of China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, to promote quality subregional tourism that will contribute to poverty reduction, and sustainable development while minimizing negative impacts. Between 2003 and 2011, ADB has provided US$58.7 million in loan and grant assistance to the GMS tourism industry.
The GMS Tourism Sector Strategy includes 29 priority projects and seven strategic programs that focus on marketing and product development, human resource development, heritage conservation and social impact management, pro-poor tourism development, private sector participation, facilitation of the movement of tourists within the subregion, and tourism-related infrastructure development.
Craig Steffensen, Country Director of ADB's Thailand Resident Mission, said during a recent midterm review of the strategy, GMS Tourism Ministers directed the Tourism Working Group to focus on promoting pro-poor tourism development, strengthen tourism-related human resources, and jointly promote the development of thematic, multi-country tour routes linked to the iconic Mekong River.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, in 2010 the Mekong region generated approximately US$22.1 billion in economic output linked to travel, shopping, entertainment, transportation and other tourism-related services.
However, a long running annual increase in international arrivals was briefly derailed in 2009 due to the global economic downturn.
Growth rebounded strongly in 2010 when the GMS surpassed the historic milestone of 30 million international arrivals for that year.
"This impressive growth and resilience is mainly due to the subregion's highly competitive cost structure, rapidly improving subregional connectivity, liberalization of immigration policies, and increasing affluence among the GMS population," Steffensen added.
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