Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) countries have agreed to boost tourism cooperation, including improving infrastructure and marketing techniques and developing human resources.
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During the 44th GMS Tourism Working Group Meeting, held last week in Siem Reap, the six countries that form GMS signed an agreement to strengthen cooperation in tourism and attract more tourists to each country.
The GMS countries are Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The meeting, held on Nov 28-29 at Apsara Angkor Hotel, was attended by the national tourism organisations of each country as well as development partners, including the Asian Development Bank, the Asean-China Center, the Asean-Korea Center, the Asean-Japan Center, Luxembourg Development PATA, Mekong Institute, and the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
The countries agreed to follow a strategy (joint action plan) for 2020-2025 that aims to increase the number of tourists from other GMS countries as well as from countries outside the region. The plan tackles infrastructure development, investment, collaboration on marketing and the development of the sector’s human capital.
Ministry of Tourism spokesperson Chuk Chumno told Khmer Times that the agreement aims to strengthen connectivity between GMS countries.
He noted that tourism cooperation within GMS was already strong.
“Because of this cooperation within GMS, Cambodia received financial support to build the tourist seaport in Kampot, a road along the coast connecting Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, and a railway line from China. Construction for some of these projects has already begun. For others, it will begin soon,” Mr Chmuno said.
“The goal is to increase the inflow of tourists into the GMS region by improving infrastructure and facilitating the paperwork,” he said.
In 2018, GMS welcomed more than 67.5 million international tourists. Cambodia accounted for 6.2 million of those tourists.
From January to September, 4.8 million international tourists visited Cambodia, a 10 percent increase compared with the same period in 2018.
Thourn Sinan, chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association, said GMS countries should continue to communicate with transparency when it comes to tourism, trade, and business activities.
He said GMS countries should be more open to dialogue and trade while respecting each other’s laws.
“We must work to improve infrastructure, particularly along the borders with Vietnam and Thailand. This will boost trade in these areas.
“If trade improves, tourism will also improve. Tourism is key as it can help attract investors and companies to the country,” Mr Sinan said.
The government recently established the National Tourism Development Committee to boost the development of one of Cambodia’s most important economic drivers.
A sub-decree on the creation of the committee was signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Nov 22, according to a statement issued last week by the Ministry of Tourism.