|Hoang Tuan Anh, Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism said a common visa scheme would also be carried out among the five countries of ACMECS, which stands for the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy.—VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Vu
HCM CITY (VNS) – Five Southeast Asian countries, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam, are targeting a double-digit growth rate of international visitors annually by 2015 under the theme "Five Countries – One Destination", according to Hoang Tuan Anh, Viet Nam's Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism.
In a press conference to announce the joint statement of the first Meeting of ACMECS Tourism Ministers organised yesterday in HCM City, Tuan Anh, the meeting's chairman, said the five countries aimed to attract 50 million foreign visitors and 10 intra-regional million visitors by 2015.
"In the meeting, the ministers emphasised that the growth rate of intra-regional visitors should be higher than that of international visitors," Tuan Anh said.
He said a common visa scheme would also be carried out among the five countries of ACMECS, which stands for the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy.
The ACMECS organisation was founded in 2003 to bridge the economic gap among the countries and promote prosperity in the sub-region in a sustainable manner.
"Currently, Cambodia and Thailand have already piloted this scheme. The others, Laos, Thailand and Viet Nam, will further study and propose to their Governments in order to implement the scheme soon," he said.
Ministers from the five countries agreed to set up a new tourism corridor along Bagan, Chiang Mai, Luang Prabang, Vientiane, Siem Reap, Da Nang and Hue.
In their first meeting, the ministers were pleased about the performance of the ACMECS tourism in 2012 when the member countries welcomed more than 37 million international visitors, including 6 million intra-regional visitors, an increase of nearly 18 per cent year-on-year.
The ministers also reviewed ACMECS tourism cooperation outlined by the Vientiane Declaration of the fifth ACMECS Summit and ACMECS Plan of Action 2013-15.
|Ministers from the five countries agreed to set up a new tourism corridor along Bagan, Chiang Mai, Luang Prabang, Vientiane, Siem Reap, Da Nang and Hue.—VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Vu
They said results had been achieved in major areas, including joint tourism promotion and marketing; travel facilitation; human resources development and safety and security guarantee for tourists; cross-sector and local cooperation; public-private partnership; and cooperation with development partners.
Working with its development partners, the five countries' transport infrastructure along the East West Economic Corridor has become more favourable for travelling by land.
According to a statement, road conditions and procedures at the pair of borders and gates between ACMECS countries has also improved.
Air travel between major tourist destinations of the ACMECS countries has become relatively convenient with the operations of the national airlines of Viet Nam, Thailand and other countries.
The local provinces of central Viet Nam, central Laos and northeast Thailand have gathered yearly and many cooperation frameworks have been established between the localities of the countries.
According to the joint statement, from 2013 onward, ACMECS tourism ministries will collaborate with tourism associations, travel operators, hotels, restaurants and airlines to grant tourism awards including the as Airline of the Year, Outbound Tour Operator of the Year, Inbound Tour Operator of the Year, Five Star Hotel of the Year and Resort of the Year.
This is the first meeting of the ACMECS tourism ministers. The second will be held in Myanmar in 2015.
Mayors at Lower Mekong
Tourism growth should be viewed as a "win-win game" for the entire Lower Mekong Sub-region, speakers at an international tourism summit said yesterday in HCM City.
Top officials from five ASEAN cities, HCM City, Bangkok, Vientiane, Phnom Penh and Yangon, gathered yesterday for the second Lower Mekong Tourism Cities' Mayors Summit 2013.
As part of the ninth International Travel Expo HCM City 2013, the second summit will assess the results of the joint statement signed during the first summit after a year of implementation.
In addition, the summit will discuss ways to improve tourism cooperation among cities in the lower Mekong sub-region.
Speaking at the summit, Le Hoang Quan, chairman of the HCM City People's Committee, said the event intended to implement a sustainable tourism development strategy for the region.
At the summit, participating cities will exchange experiences on how to improve tourism linkages and training programmes for human resources. Tourism promotions that uphold cultural values of each city or country will also be discussed.
The summit this year sees the participation of a new member, Bangkok, well-known worldwide as one of the world's best tourist destinations, Quan said.
Thailand has extensive experience in tourism development and has a leading position in attracting foreign tourists.
Sukhumbhand Raribatra, governor of Bangkok, called on regional cooperation in tourism via practical strategies, saying each of the participating cities should see tourism growth of the region as a "win-win" game from which each city could benefit.
An official from Myanmar, U Kyaw Soe, hoped that after the summit more people would visit Myanmar to learn about the significant changes that have occurred in his country in recent years.
Other officials from Laos and Cambodia presented reports about their cities' tourism situations and expressed their determination to cooperate with other cities and countries.
All of the mayors from the five cities agreed with the general review and results achieved from the first mayoral conference held last year in HCM City.
They also agreed to organise a Tourism Youth Ambassador programme in the lower Mekong sub-region to improve exchanges and develop a regional youth tourism market.
The leaders also said guidance should be provided to the cities' tourism bodies to establish better communication channels to coordinate, research and develop a system of inter-regional tourism products based on advantages and resources of each city.
According to Quan, after the summit, a website about tourism in the five cities will be set up to attract international visitors.
All of the cities are popular with tourists. The number of tourists to HCM City for the 2006-12 period saw an average growth of more than 10 per cent per year, accounting for nearly 60 per cent of international tourists to Viet Nam.
HCM City's tourism revenue has risen by 30 per cent per year in recent years, accounting for 43 per cent of national tourism revenue, which contributes 11 per cent to the city's GDP, according to Quan.
The third summit will be held next year in Bangkok.
ITE 2013 opens
The International Travel Expo HCM City (ITE HCM) 2013 will open today in HCM City.
Despite many challenges, to date the exhibition has seen a 30 per cent increase in total floor space compared with last year, attracting more than 300 exhibitors from 50 destinations.
This year's ITE HCM will introduce a new message "Five Countries – One Destination" agreed upon by Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam in the spirit of the fifth ACMECS Conference organised in Vientiane, Laos in 2013.
The message is a model for connecting and promoting tourism-based development cooperation among the Mekong sub-region countries.
During the three days, there will be a series of exciting key events and performances organised to help promote socio-economic cooperation and development among regional countries.
The expo will take place until Saturday at the Sai Gon Exhibition and Convention Centre, District 7, HCM City. — VNS