44th GMS Tourism Working Group Meeting Promotes Tourism Competitiveness
The 44th Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Tourism Working Group Meeting, held on 28-29 November 2019 in Siem Reap, Cambodia, was attended by more than 70 senior tourism officials and development partners. Delegations included national tourism organizations of the GMS countries, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the ASEAN-China Center, the ASEAN-Korea Center, the ASEAN-Japan Center, Luxembourg Development, Pacific Asia Travel Association, and Mekong Institute.
The meeting reviewed GMS tourism performance and the joint efforts of GMS countries to implement the GMS Tourism Sector Strategy 2016-2025. It also discussed how to mainstream the proposed core principles of the planned GMS Strategy 2030—environmental sustainability and resilience, internal and external integration, and inclusivity—into tourism cooperation within the GMS Economic Cooperation.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Tith Chantha, Permanent Secretary of State, Ministry of Tourism, Cambodia, emphasized that GMS tourism cooperation continues to deliver tangible benefits for all segments of society.
International tourist arrivals in the GMS region are at an all-time high. The region is on track to reach the 80 million target and generate over $90 billion for 2019.
Countries pledged to further promote secondary destinations to better balance growth and encourage multi-country travel. They reaffirmed their commitment to implement the tourism sector strategy to enable and maintain competitive, inclusive, and sustainable tourism development in the region. The strategy charts five strategic directions: develop human resources, improve tourism infrastructure, enhance visitor experiences and services, conduct creative marketing and promotion activities, and facilitate regional travel.
Mr. Chantha and Mr. Steven Schipani, Unit Head, Project Administration, ADB Viet Nam Resident Mission, emphasized building human resources, enabling seamless travel connectivity, and improving environmental management in tourist destinations—all priorities under the planned GMS Strategy 2030—are critically needed to maintain GMS tourism competitiveness.
ADB supports GMS tourism cooperation through lending, grants, and technical assistance. Ongoing and past projects include the first and second Greater Mekong Subregion Tourism Infrastructure for Inclusive Growth Project, which are helping transform secondary GMS central and southern corridor towns into economically inclusive, competitive tourism destinations by improving transport infrastructure, urban environmental services, and capacity to sustainably manage tourism growth; Mekong Tourism Innovation, which supported the Mekong Innovative Startup in Tourism accelerator program; and the ADB-ASEAN-Korea Center Regional Tourism Management Training, which focused on regional tourism policy development and destination management and marketing strategies.