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April 2008                                                                                                                  www.MekongTourism.org

Official newsletter of the Mekong Tourism Office

In this issue:

TAT Governor Elected Next PATA Chairman

New Singapore to Beijing Roadway Officially Opened

Mekong Leaders Agree on Ambitious 5-Year Development Plan

MTCO Participates in Major Responsible Tourism Conference

Stay Another Day in Laos and Cambodia

Mix Magazine Features Cambodia and Laos

World Travel Services Celebrates 50+ Year of PATA Membership

TravelMole TV Showcasing Thailand and Mekong Region

GMS Travel News at a Glance

About the Mekong Tourism Office

 

TAT Governor Elected Next PATA Chairman

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) has chosen Mrs Phornsiri Manoharn (pictured), Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), as its Chairman-elect for 2008/2009 and Chairman of the Board for 2009/2010. The decision was made by Executive Committee members at the PATA Board of Directors Meeting and the 57th Annual General Meeting held April 4-7 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
     "This is certainly not an individual honour, but a national honour as well," Mrs Phornsiri said. "It is an acknowledgement of Thailand’s active role in the Asia-Pacific tourism industry. PATA and Thailand’s tourism industry, and especially TAT, have grown together and are inseparable from one another," she added.
     As PATA Chairman, Mrs Phornsiri will have the opportunity to be the driving force in planning and implementing PATA activities that benefit its members in economic and social areas, as well as be the agent for change as the tourism industry in the region expands and grows. She mentioned in Colombo that a main priority for her would be to strengthen the association’s membership structure by creating consistent interaction among PATA chapters, their members and the PATA Headquarters in Bangkok.
     TAT is one of the longest-serving member organizations of PATA, having been a member since TAT was established in 1960. Through TAT’s support, Thailand has hosted a number of PATA conferences, workshops and special projects, including several annual conferences.
     Another highlight PATA event that Thailand will next host is the PATA CEO Challenge 2008: Confronting Climate Change in Bangkok during 29-30 April, 2008. Climate change is a global issue that affects how we live, and also directly shapes the direction of the tourism industry now and in the future. Global travel industry leaders are saying it is now time for travel businesses to adopt new attitudes towards the environment and social justice. Some have gone on to say that the success of the industry to protect the environment has a critical bearing on its survivability.
     Thailand will host the PATA CEO Challenge 2008: Confronting Climate Change in Bangkok from April 29-30.
     TAT news. PATA CEO Challenge 2008 website.

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New Singapore to Beijing Roadway Officially Opened

Uncrowded Rte 3 in Laos - Photo courtesy TTRweekly

The Route 3 highway in Lao PDR -- the last remaining stretch of road in an overland route joining Singapore and Beijing -- was officially opened on March 31 by China PRC Premier Wen Jiabao, Lao PDR Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh, Thailand Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej and Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Haruhiko Kuroda.
     In addition to enhancing business and employment opportunities for Lao PDR, Thailand and China PRC, the new route is expected to expand the number of tourists visiting all three countries. "Revitalizing this ancient trade route and stimulating new business between these Mekong neighbors will bring more jobs and greater prosperity to the region," said President Kuroda. "Improved road networks in Lao PDR will also give families in the area easier access to health clinics, and give children better access to school," he added.
     The last stretch of Route 3 in Laos was recently completed and now links China to Singapore. The road network from Kunming to Bangkok has been under development by Mekong nations and ADB for more than a decade.
     Full story. ADB website.

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Mekong Leaders Agree on Ambitious 5-Year Development Plan

Leaders of the six nations sharing the Mekong River on March 31 agreed on a comprehensive five-year "Plan of Action" that aims to spur growth, reduce poverty, promote social development and enhance environmental protection in the subregion.
     The prime ministers of Cambodia, China PRC, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam approved the new Plan of Action for 2008-2012 during the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Summit held March 30-31 in Vientiane, Lao PDR. The plan commits the six nations to:

  • Accelerating the construction and improvement of the remaining sections of GMS transport corridors, including a rail link joining Singapore and Kunming

  • Devoting more resources to rural communications development

  • Implementing new biofuel and rural renewable energy development initiatives

  • Intensifying efforts to protect forests and reduce environmental risks

  • Strengthening the sustainable management of natural and cultural tourism sites

  • Implementing a new strategic action plan for cooperation in education, health, and labor

  • Enhancing the prevention and control of communicable diseases in border areas and

  • Harmonizing trade procedures and facilitating border crossing formalities.

"Over the past fifteen years, the GMS program has been a key element in our nations’ successful efforts to reduce poverty," said Lao PDR Deputy Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith. "The new GMS Plan of Action we have adopted today will help us transform the Mekong subregion into a hub of development in Asia."
     Full story. Joint Summit Declaration.

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MTCO Participates in Major Responsible Tourism Conference

MTCO Development Project Coordinator, Ms Christine Jacquemin, was among more than 500 delegates from 29 countries attending the second International Conference on Responsible Tourism in Destinations held March 21-24 in Kerala, India. During the four-day event, delegates formulated and approved the comprehensive Kerala Declaration on Responsible Tourism in Destinations which focuses on practical actions that can be used to achieve responsible tourism in destinations.
     There were delegates from international organisations, national and local government, local communities, airlines, hoteliers, tour operators, service providers, protected areas, NGOs, academia, architects and planners, the media and consultants.
     "I was very impressed by the burgeoning of projects taking place in India, South Africa and the Gambia," Ms Jacquemin said. "In particular the initiatives of some Indian hotel groups such as CGH Earth and other Indian hotels, who are applying responsible tourism principles in a very profitable manner -- proving caring for the people and the environment pays off."
     "The Mekong region could learn a lot from these initiatives," Ms Jacquemin added. "I hope in my role, the MTCO can help foster responsible tourism and increase awareness of the importance of mitigating socio cultural and environmental impacts."
     Conference website. Conference presentations. ICRT-India website.

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Stay Another Day in Laos and Cambodia

The recently launched 2008 editions of Stay Another Day Laos and Stay Another Day Cambodia booklets are now available at hotels, guesthouses, tour operators and restaurants throughout Laos and Cambodia.
     The booklets, in their second edition, are aimed at encouraging travelers to venture beyond the well- trodden path and showcase unique and alternative things to do, see and learn so that benefits from tourism can make an immediate and positive difference in the lives of the local community. Stay Another Day is an initiative by the Mekong Private Sector Development Facility (IFC-MPDF), a multi-donor funded initiative managed by the International Finance Corporation, to reduce poverty through sustainable private sector development in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam.
     Kate Lloyd-Williams, Tourism Program Manager at IFC-MPDF says the new Lao booklet "is the result of the great feedback we’ve received from our partners – the initiatives who said they have seen an increase in customers and sales or donations; the tourists who told us that the 2007 booklet helped them to get to know Laos better and tour and hotel operators whose guests enjoyed finding alternative things to do."
     Stay Another Day originated as a pilot project in Siem Reap, Cambodia, in early 2006 as an initiative to get tourists to stay longer and spend more money locally. The project has grown organically to cover Cambodia, Laos and to a lesser extent, Vietnam. In 2007, over 70,000 copies of the two booklets were published. The 2008 editions of the booklets, launched in February, are thicker and feature nearly 90 initiatives in the two countries with an initial print run of between 40,000 to 50,000 copies each.
     Stay Another Day website. IFC-MPDF website.

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Mix Magazine Features Cambodia and Laos

"Cambodia and Laos provide corporate groups with unique meeting and incentive options," writes Mr Kenny Coyle in the February/March issue of Mix -- a creative meetings magazine providing information on the latest trends, products and services available from meeting and incentive specialists.
     Titled "Mekong Magic", the six-page spread includes an "Expert View" sidebar by Mr Peter Semone, Senior Advisor, Mekong Tourism Office. Mix is published by Panacea Publishing International's Hong Kong office. The magazine also acts as a window on the ever-evolving demands of customers, as well as a gallery of creative suggestions and ideas to ensure productive meetings and memorable events.

     Mix website.

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World Travel Services Celebrates 50+ Year of PATA Membership

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) acknowledged the longstanding membership of World Travel Services at the 2008 PATA Annual Meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka on April 5, 2008.
     World Travel Services (WTS) under the leadership of Khun Kusa Panyarachun (pictured), was the first PATA member in Thailand and the only Thai organisation among the 34 organisations that have been PATA members for years 50 or more. WTS joined PATA in 1954, when the Association was just four years old. At that time PATA was still known as Pacific Area Travel Association.
     During WTS’ 54 years of PATA membership, Khun Kusa has personally been involved and contributed to the Association and the Asia Pacific tourism industry as one of the pioneer representatives of the private sector. In 1985, PATA presented the Association’s highest individual honour, Life Membership, to Khun Kusa, who has served several PATA advisory committees and the Board of Directors.
     WTS website. PATA website.

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TravelMole TV Showcasing Thailand and Mekong Region

TravelMole TV is moving into Asia and will kick off its new series in Thailand as part of a major expansion and partnership with social network giant MySpace. to distribute its online video through the newly launched MySpace TV to the 80 million global MySpace community. "The TravelMole TV Channel at MySpace TV is an exciting new online travel television series," said James Hart, executive producer, TravelMole TV.
     The TravelMole TV producer is scheduled to be in Thailand and other Mekong countries between the dates of April 19-28 and May 2-4. "We are interested to cover popular and interesting tourist areas, including ecotourism," said Hart. "Tourist offices, hotel/resorts, tour operators, and other travel suppliers are our targets and we are inviting them to be part of the programme," he said.
     Full story. TravelMole TV website.

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GMS Travel News at a Glance

  • The Mekong Expo 2008 International Fair will be held April 29-May 5 at the Can Tho International Fair & Exhibition Center, Can Tho City, Vietnam. Can Tho City and the Mekong Delta provinces are organising folk festivals, sporting events, artistic and cultural performances, and tourist events throughout this year in celebration of Mekong – Can Tho Travel Year 2008. More information.

  • The Thailand Travel Mart 2008 Plus Amazing Gateway to Greater Mekong Sub-region (TTM + 2008) is being held in Bangkok June 5-8 at Challenger 3, Impact Muang Thong Thani. The Tourism Authority of Thailand has invited 400 "quality buyers" from traditional markets and key emerging markets with high outbound potential to meet in prescheduled appointments with over 400 sellers from Thailand and Greater Mekong Subregion countries. More information.

  • The Cambodian government plans to develop the Preah Vihear temple into a cultural tourism destination in an effort to reach the goal of attracting 3 million tourists by 2010. Considered "the greatest Khmer temple of all times," Prasat Preah Vihear is an 11th century monument perched on the edge of a giant cliff in Preah Vihear Province, northern Cambodia. More information.

  • Tiger Airways is increasing Singapore – Ho Chi Minh City to 12 flights a week during its summer travel schedule starting May 16. From June 1, the route frequency increases to two flights a day. One way fares start from Sin$29.99 for travel till 25 October 2008 subject to seat availability. Website.

  • Six Senses Resorts & Spas is to develop a property to be named Six Senses Latitude Saigon River in Ho Chi Minh City, it was announced following the signing of the agreement made between Six Senses and the Vietnam Owning Company – Hai Dung Limited. Full Press Release.

  • Singapore Airlines and Pacific Holidays are sponsoring a 10-day travel agent familiarization trip to Myanmar departing Los Angeles, California, USA, on November 3. The cost is USD $1895.00 per agent, including land and air. Spouse or companion cost is USD $2095.00 per person. Contact Ms Marta Visu at Pacific Holidays.

  • Entries are being accepted up to June 1 for Wild Asia's 2008 Responsible Tourism Awards that recognize the efforts of tourism operators committed to following the principles of responsible tourism. The third annual awards and seminar, to be held in October, bring together leading practitioners of responsible tourism in the region and highlight the best resorts and initiatives in Asia. Awards details.

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About the Mekong Tourism Office
The MTO was established in February 2006. Its four key objectives are to:-

  • Develop and promote the Mekong as a single destination, offering a diversity of good quality and high-yielding sub-regional products that help to distribute the benefits of tourism more widely

  • Add to the tourism development efforts of each GMS country

  • Contribute to poverty reduction, gender equality and the empowerment of women

  • Promote sustainable development, while minimising adverse impacts.

Contact Point

Mekong Tourism Office

5th Floor, Office of Tourism Development, Ministry of Tourism & Sports

154 Rama I Road, National Stadium, Bangkok 10330, Thailand

Tel: (66-2) 612-4150/1. Fax: (66-2) 612-4152.

E-mail: info@MekongTourism.org. Website: www.MekongTourism.org.

Media enquiries: media@MekongTourism.org.


Abbreviations

ADB (Asian Development Bank); EU (European Union); GMS (Greater Mekong Subregion); IMF (International Monetary Fund); MTCO (Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office); MTO (Mekong Tourism

Office); SNV (Netherlands Development Organization); STEP (Sustainable Tourism Eliminating Poverty); UNESCAP (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific); UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization); UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization).

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