Thailand Department of Tourism is leading a project to create a new heritage and cultural trail along the Gulf of Thailand from Samut Prakan near Bangkok to the Mekong Delta in Vietnam via Cambodia southern provinces.
The Gulf of Thailand is one of the most promising areas in the Greater Mekong Sub-region for tourism development. The provinces on the almost 1,000 km coast line stretching from Samut Prakan near Bangkok to the most southeastern tip of Vietnam in the Mekong Delta are home to a rich cultural heritage, pristine beaches, national parks, untouched rainforests and villages where communities still live today like 50 years ago.
The Gulf of Thailand is part of the GMS Southern Economic Corridor supported by the Asia Development Bank with the task of bringing wealth in that part of the Mekong area.
Major tourism developments take now place along the Gulf of Thailand- particularly in Cambodia [see previous story about Cambodia Southern Coast Balearic-style development] and on Phu Quoc Island in Vietnam.
There are also attempts along the Gulf of Thailand to foster culture and heritage tourism. Thailand Department of Tourism is working on a proposed project to build up a heritage and cultural trail from Samut Prakan to the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, along a 950 km trail.
The target of the Department of Tourism is to lure quality visitors to the area by:
– creating a multi-country circuit around heritage, culture, history as main themes with nature and communities as secondary themes.
– studying ways to promote a still relatively unknown region, especially by helping to raise the profile of second-tier cities and destinations.
The project carries currently the name of “Coasts of History Heritage Trail” with the first phase integrating actively Thailand and Cambodia and then in a second phase to enlarge it to Vietnam.
A study is due to be launched to look at the identification of destinations along the Coasts of History Heritage Trail; at the evaluation of current infrastructure and the needs to improve smooth travel. An important point is to build up brand and awareness by creating a visual identity and communicate about the trail.
Looking at the entire region, they are many common elements of culture and history which gives an homogeneity in the product and at the same preserve its diversity. Cambodia and Thailand share a same religious and royal heritage which could be highlighted together as well as a history influenced by France in the 19th and 20th century. Other important common elements of culture can be found in gastronomy, handicraft or architecture. The region has also some of the most beautiful untouched beaches in Southeast Asia and many villages with a lively culture to be discovered.
Some of the cities already identified as strong historical and cultural urban destinations are Samut Prakan, Chanthaburi and Trat in Thailand, Kep and Kampot in Cambodia; Sadec, Vinh Long and Can Tho in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.
According to data communicated by the various Ministries of Tourism in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, some 2.25 million international travellers were recorded in the provinces along the Gulf of Thailand while the entire Mekong Delta region sees some 1.6 million travellers a year. Thailand has the largest share at 53% of all international arrivals followed by Vietnam with 24% share and Cambodia with 23% share.