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A new era rises for Mekong tourism investment

Nine tourism investment experts and project managers will address the inaugural Mekong Tourism Investment Summit in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR, March 28-30. Their objective of the Summit is to provide a…

Nine tourism investment experts and project managers will address the inaugural Mekong Tourism Investment Summit in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR, March 28-30. Their objective of the Summit is to provide a forum for candid discussion and concrete action to encourage positive growth and investment in the tourism sectors in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Yunnan and Guangxi provinces of China (PRC).

The Summit will raise the profile of the Mekong region as an expanding tourism destination by linking tourism investors with business opportunities, promoting win-win partnership models between investors and local communities, and creating an accessible investment environment through dialogue, debate and action.

The Summit seeks to attract private sector investors to fund responsible and sustainable projects throughout the region. The event, hosted by the Lao National Tourism Administration, will recommend action to overcome obstacles to growth. Outcomes will be tabled at the Mekong-region tourism ministers’ dialogue which will take place at the PATA Annual Conference in Pattaya, Thailand, April 24.

“In the last ten years governments in the Mekong region have started meaningful collaboration to advance tourism,” said Mekong Tourism Office Executive Director, Mr Stephen Yong. “The role of the private sector should now be expanded. The Summit will show how, by analysing successful case studies and exposing the regulatory and financial issues that need to be addressed.”

There is strong potential for return on investment as the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) predicts steady increases in international visitor arrivals for the region to 2008. Between 2005 and 2008 the association predicts international arrivals will increase as follows: Cambodia 18.2%, Lao PDR 16.1%, Myanmar 11.7%, Thailand 11.2%, and Vietnam 13.0%.

At the local level, tourism can have a dramatic impact. In Luang Prabang, for example, tourist arrivals increased from 110,240 in year 2000 to 261,950 in 2005, an increase of 138%.

At the macro level, the World Bank predicts read gross domestic product growth for 2006 will be:

  • Cambodia 6.1%
  • Laos PDR 7.0%
  • Thailand 4.4% (1)
  • Vietnam 7.5%
  • China 8.6% (2)

During the Summit there will be detailed investment case studies.

Major features of the Summit will include:

  • User-friendly documents detailing tourism investment procedures
  • Presentations from entrepreneurs profiling investment success stories
  • Case studies of pioneering community-private sector partnerships
  • Breakout sessions on improving the investment environment
  • Mekong-region country booths

Bangkok Airways, Amadeus Asia Pacific, Best Western Asia, Diethelm Travel, Incentive House Asia and TTR Weekly are sponsoring the Summit, which is being supported by Lao Airlines, SNV, the Asian Development Bank and PATA.

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Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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