Speaking at the event, Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Le Van Tam said the Mekong Delta is not only a granary but also one of the seven major tourism regions of the country.
The number of tourists to the region rose 18.7% to 34 million last year, bringing total revenue of over VND17 trillion (US$748.9 million), up 26.5% annually.
Associate Prof. Nguyen Khac Cuong, from the Government Office, said the government has issued a number of documents directing the sustainable development of the Mekong Delta adaptive to climate change, adding that it is the first time the State, consultant units and banks have worked together in the effort.
Nguyen Huu Thien, an independent ecological expert, suggested incorporating tourism into socio-economic development plans of localities, with attention given to regional connectivity, tourism development in combination with clean agricultural production, among others.
Christopher Malone, Managing Director of the Boston Consulting Group, presented three strategic initiatives, including resorts on rivers, Mekong Delta safari, and ecological-agriculture discovery, and talked ways to increase the number of tourists and their expenses in the region.
He emphasised the need to issue a framework for environmental sustainability, citing the Philippine government’s decision to shut down Boracay island within six months due to pollution and worsening water quality as an example.
Experts introduced successful models in the world such as canal tourism in the Netherlands, the US’s Mississippi river tourism system, Nile river in Egypt and floating market in Thailand.
They called on parties concerned to launch flights to Can Tho international airport, and accelerate the construction of the remaining sections of Ho Chi Minh City – Can Tho highway.
The region needs to develop an integrated lodging system and special tourism products to affirm its stature in the world’s tourism map, they said.