East West Economic Corridor Workshop Highlights Mekong Tourism Sustainability

The first East West Economic Corridor (EWEC) Technical Tour and Workshop, co-chaired by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) and the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO), was held in from 18 to 22 September, this year.

The East West Economic Corridor is one of the 11 multi-country thematic routes highlighted in the 2015-2020 Experience Mekong Tourism Marketing Strategy.

Attending the inaugural event were members of the public and private sectors from EWEC countries – Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. The four day technical tour saw delegates explore part of the EWEC route by visiting several attractions in Vietnam such as Quang Binh province, famous for its seaside and marine products; the well preserved ancient city of Hue; the coastal city of Da Nang; and Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Through both the technical tour and the workshop components of the event, the intention was to enhance the quality of cooperation and tourism marketing among EWEC countries by promoting partnerships between the public and private sectors along the EWEC.

Mr. Jens Thraenhart, MTCO Executive Director, said promoting multi-country travel and secondary destinations to drive visitor disbursement, in order to increase inclusive growth, is one of the focal areas of the MTCO.

“Multi-country travel in the GMS allows travellers to experience the unique history of the region while being immersed in local culture. The EWEC creates a unique potential for the four member countries to develop a world-class multi-country tourism destination, combining rich colonial architecture, local culture and heritage as well as adventure travel experiences to caves, rivers and mountains,” he said.

Some of the focal points of the meeting included the development of infrastructure and cross border facilitation between each of the EWEC member countries, as well as developing products focused on key target markets and demographics by recognising the growth of regional travel. Improvement in the tourism promotion of travel experiences along the EWEC, and enhancing collaboration among the member tourism ministries was also highlighted as being priorities.

Delegates participating in the workshop agreed that travel along the EWEC route has great potential due to the rich natural and cultural resources. Jointly increasing capacity to facilitate multi-country travel and to promote experiences by citizens as well as tourists, via social media, has great potential to increase awareness.

VNAT introduced its next two year action plan for developing the EWEC route into an alternative product for specific and niche markets such as: adventure tours in caves; cultural tours based around festivals and on local food and handicrafts; and architectural-based tours linking to the region’s rich history and art.

Mr. Nguyen Quy Phuong, Director General of VNAT’s Travel Industry Management Department said: “Vietnam is committed to developing the EWEC route as a sustainable travel destination, by appealing to specific visitor segments interested in unique experiences in such areas as culture, history, heritage, nature, sports, gastronomy, religion and health.

“Collaborating with our EWEC member countries and bringing in our combined resources and expertise will allow us to co-develop and promote the multi-country destination together”, he added.