Mekong region alliance formed

Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, the six countries that share the Mekong River, have announced a joint strategy to promote tourism in the region. It will also aim to help the poor and enable travellers to cross borders easily. The nations have formed a long-term plan that promotes an equitable vision of the sub-region - which is fast becoming a C&I destination of choice - over the next five to 10 years. The main aim is to promote the Mekong as a single destination, offering a diversity of programmes that can help to spread the benefits of tourism widely. It will also contribute to poverty reduction, gender equality, empowerment of women and sustainable development, while minimising adverse impacts. The strategy will be implemented through 13 projects that deal with the development of priority tourism zones and 16 thematic projects dealing with regional interventions in the areas of HR development, management of cultural and natural heritage, pro-poor tourism development, private sector participation, and cross-border facilitation. "The implementation of the strategy will position the sub-region as a single destination for culture, nature and adventure tourism products and markets that can benefit the poor in an environmentally and socially responsible manner," says Alfredo Perdiguero, project economist in Asian Development Bank (ADB). "It will create a more equitable distribution of tourism benefits by increasing the share of total arrivals in less-developed sub-regional countries. It will ensure that ethnic communities and women have equal access to training and job opportunities by 2010." The estimated cost of carrying out the projects under the strategy between 2006 and 2010 is £250m, of which tourism-related infrastructure accounts for £210m. The strategy was prepared by the Tourism Working Group of the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) country national tourism organisations, with the financial assistance of ADB.

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