Greater Mekong Subregion countries agree to strengthen tourism cooperation

Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) countries have agreed to boost tourism cooperation, including improving infrastructure and marketing techniques and developing human resources, a Cambodian English-language daily newspaper reported on Monday.

During the 44th GMS Tourism Working Group Meeting held last week in northwestern Cambodia's Siem Reap province, the six countries that form GMS signed an agreement to strengthen cooperation in tourism and attract more tourists to each country, according to the Khmer Times.

The GMS countries are Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The meeting was attended by the national tourism organizations of each country as well as development partners, including the Asian Development Bank, the ASEAN-China Center, and Mekong Institute, among others.

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.

Cambodian Ministry of Tourism spokesperson Chuk Chumno said 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 southwestern Kampot province, 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," Chumno was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

"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.

Thourn Sinan, chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association, 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," he said. "If trade improves, tourism will also improve."

Source: China ASEAN Business Council