Vietnam conference seeks sustainable tourism strategies for Mekong nations

Fishermen use traditional fishing techniques on Inlay Lake. The large mountain lake located in Shan State was inscribed as the first biosphere reserve of Myanmar during meetings at UNESCO  headquarters in Paris on Tuesday. Photo: Myanmar Tourism Federation
Fishermen use traditional fishing techniques on Inlay Lake. The large mountain lake located in Shan State was inscribed as the first biosphere reserve of Myanmar during meetings at UNESCO headquarters in Paris on Tuesday. Photo: Myanmar Tourism Federation

Yangon, 11 June — Travel industry stakeholders will gather in Da Nam, Vietnam next week to discuss the promotion of sustainable tourism in the Greater Mekong Subregion, the Asian Development Bank said Wednesday.
The ADB defines the GMS as six countries—Cambodia, the People’s Republic of China, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam—which share the Mekong River.  Collectively, the area is the fastest-growing tourist destination in the Asia-Pacific region.
The annual event is expected to attract public and private sector participants representing the tourism industry, civil society, academia, the media and development organization including the ADB, the bank said.
“Tourism is flourishing in the GMS, but with that growth comes the need to shape the industry in a way that increases benefits to local communities and protects the environment,” said Steven Schipani, senior specialist at the ADB’s Lao PDR resident mission.
According to the ADB, the GMS attracted 52 million international tourist arrivals in 2013, up 17 percent from the previous year, with arrivals have growing at an annual rate of 12 percent since 2002.
Among the countries in the subregion, Myanmar is the fastest growing destination, it added.
According to Myanmar’s Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, the country is set to receive 5 million foreign tourists this year, eclipsing last year’s record 3 million arrivals.
Pointing out strains on tourism resources that could be brought about by the surge in globetrotters, the ADB said that the forum aims to highlight the importance of practices that enhance environmental, social and economic benefits of tourism.
The forum will also develop a “white paper” for tourism ministries and private tourism operators, outlining a path for the industry’s future, the ADB said. — GNLM

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