HCM CITY (VNS)— Ministers from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam (CLMV) agreed yesterday that the four countries will work together to attract 25 million international visitors to the region by 2015, with at least four million "exchange visitors".
The four countries will also consider the issuance of a single tourist visa for five countries in the Mekong sub-region including Thailand, after assessing the effectiveness of one planned by Thailand and Cambodia.
These targets were mentioned at a press briefing held yesterday following the first meeting of the CLMV Tourism Ministers in HCM City.
The conference was presided over by Hoang Tuan Anh, Viet Nam's Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
Attending the conference were Bosengkham Vonhdara, Lao Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Thong Khon, Cambodian Minister of Tourism, and Thet Oo, Ambassador of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar in Viet Nam.
Anh told the press that the ministers were pleased with the "impressive development" of tourism in all the four countries in recent times despite the global economic crisis and other problems including natural calamities and conflicts in several areas.
"Last year, CLMV welcomed over 12.3 million international visitors, a growth of 14.5 per cent in comparison with 2010. Of them, exchange visitors among the four countries reached 2.1 million, accounting for 17 per cent of the total number of international visitors," he said.
The ministers reviewed the implementation of the 2010 Ministerial Joint Statement on CLMV Tourism Co-operation to develop tourism in the four countries.
Tourism agencies of the four countries have since actively participated in the activities of the International Travel Expo HCM City held annually to promote the "Four Countries – One Destination (4CODE)" concept, he said.
The ministers of Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar appreciated the initiative taken by Viet Nam in making a documentary film introducing 4CODE in 2010.
The national tourism agencies and tourism associations of CLMV had also co-operated well with each other in organising the Tourism Alliance Awards, Anh said.
He noted that Viet Nam had successfully held the 4CODE Tourism Investment Conference in September 2011.
The four countries have also supported each other in organising several regional international events including the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) in Cambodia and Laos, Anh said. The forum seeks to exploit the tourism potentials of the region as a whole.
The ministers noted and appreciated the support of international countries and organisations like ASEAN Japan Center and ASEAN South Korea Center in training human resources and promoting CLMV destinations in Japan and South Korea.
The contribution of Asian Development Bank, which has invested in tourism infrastructure, public tourism, and developing human resources through the Greater Mekong Subregion Sustainable Tourism Development Project, was especially appreciated, Anh said.
At the press conference, the four ministers signed the CLMV Tourism Joint Co-operation Plan for the 2013-15 period.
The plan focused on eight major activities that would build on achievements already made in tourism co-operation between the four countries.
Thong Khon, Cambodia's Minister of Tourism, mentioned the need to implement strong promotion programmes, upgrade tourism infrastructure, create unique tourism products and facilitate transportation within and between the four countries.
The new plan specifies increased information exchange among the four countries as well as the development of joint tourism products that are of high quality. It also envisages joint efforts in attracting more investment into the tourism sector as well as acting together in promoting co-operation with the third parties including countries and international organisations.
The ministers emphasised the need for human resources training and development, saying it would determine the quality of tourism products and services in the sub-region.
They also agreed to hold the Tourism Ministerial Conference every year with the four nations taking turns to host it. Cambodia would be the next host, they said.
The Tourism Ministerial Conference was held under the auspices of the International Travel Expo HCM City 2012, which closes today. — VNS