Leaders of the four nations met in Myanmar on Sunday to discuss ways to promote tourism cooperation and expand ties in the banking sector. The event was attended by Myanmar Vice President U Henry Van Thio, and Deputy Prime Ministers Vu Duc Dam of Vietnam, Sonexay Siphandone of Laos, and Men Sam An of Cambodia, together with tourism and banking officials.
The four countries, known as CLMV, are expected to join forces to promote key travel routes and launch new tourism products in order to boost visitor arrivals.
Several itineraries have been considered. The Lampang-Nan-Sayabouly-Luang Prabang-Viengxay-Oudomxay-Dien Bien will focus on heritage sites of Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. Another route, Tien Giang-An Giang-Siem Reap-Phnom Penh, will take tourists along the Mekong River.
There are also an ecotourism option to Nakorn Phanom-Thakhek-Lak Xao-Cau Treo Border Gate-Ha Tinh in Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, and a tour along the southern corridor of Thailand-Cambodia-Vietnam-Myanmar.
Apart from sharing the same targeted markets and operating the package tours in harmony, each country should add their own distinctive features so that the four nations can most effectively approach different market segments, according to a representative of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism.
Vietnam also proposed the group seek financial aid from a third party, especially international organizations, financial groups and partners interested in the four countries.
The conference also discussed establishing a tourism development scheme through a conference of the regional tourism ministers and setting up a team in charge of joint actions.
As discussed, members of the team would meet once a year to exchange information and share experience as well as undertake specific activities that the CLMV has agreed upon.
Despite their potential as a united group, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar have worked together in just a few tourism activities, a Vietnamese tourism official said on the sidelines of the conference.
One of the highlights so far has been a fair and conference on river tourism for Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam held by the Promotion Centre on Trade, Investment and Tourism ASEAN-Japan (AJC) in 2014 in Japan. The event saw four regional airlines Angkor Air, Lao Airlines, Myanmar Airlines and Vietnam Airlines sign a cooperation agreement.
CLMV received 22 million foreign arrivals last year, up 12.7% year-on-year, and earned US$21 billion of tourism revenue, data of their tourism ministries showed. Vietnamese tourists to Laos and Cambodia made up two-thirds of the total regional visitor number.
As calculated by the World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism revenue contributed 13.5% to Cambodia’s gross domestic product (GDP). The respective figure for Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar was 6.6%, 4.6% and 2.6%.