Member countries in the Mekong River region including Thailand,
Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Viet Nam should build up long-term strategies and
action plans to boost co-operation of river-based tourism in the future.
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Harry Hwang, deputy regional director regional programme for Asia and the
Pacific of World Tourism Organisation, said at the Mekong River-based Tourism
Product Development workshop in Da Nang.
He said the region has identified 14 products and the Mekong-based tourism is a
"It has a lot of potential, and each country should do more investment in
infrastructure and facilities in matching the service from country to country,"
"A series of items including ports, accommodation, navigation, environment and
service are needed to be developed each country for the river-based tourism," he
A deputy head of Viet Nam National Tourism Administration, Ha Van Sieu, said
countries in the Mekong River region need to join hands to smooth the
development of river-based tourism.
He said the river-based tourism connection among countries has seen operations
among travel agencies.
He said an ASEAN ministerial meeting next January would dismantle barriers for
the river tour service to boom.
Peter Simon, consultant of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO),
presented the Strategy and Action Plan of the Mekong River-based Tourism Product
Development at the workshop, saying that it would be a super product.
He said the Mekong River-based Tourism Product means many things including
historical and religious sites, bird and dolphin watching, trekking, ethnic
village visit, community-based tourism, day and night cruise, kayaking, fishing,
cycling and camping.
He said countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region face various challenges in
developing river tourism.
"There will be different factors that affecting tourists use of rivers in the
region including political, management, biological, recreational use,
transportation, accommodation, environment, and industrial," Simon said.
"The region could host three or four day international cruises from Cambodia and
Laos to Viet Nam via HCM City. Cruises could dock at HCM City's ports to cruise
the Mekong one day," he said.
"Viet Nam's government has invested much for the river tourism service. My Tho
in Tien Giang and Vinh Xuong Check-out on the river tour was a success story,"
He said westerners prefer camping, trekking and cycling along the Mekong, but
such services have yet to be seen in the region.
He said a section from the border of China to Laos has amazing scenery.
Simon also warned of challenges that regional countries should be aware of the
future of river-based tourism development.
He said there are 41 ports and landings along the river, but it needs standard
ports, visitor information centres, embankment and dismemberment facilities.
"First aid medical clinic with trained staffs, rescue boats, fueling facilities,
road access to neighbouring tourism infrastructure, public toilet facilities
that meet ASEAN standards, restaurants with international food safety and
hygiene standards must be created," he detailed.
He also reminded about garbage disposal as garbage could be seen everywhere as
well as navigation aids.