Mekong mayors woo tourists
Bangkok is to join forces with four cities in the lower Mekong to promote the region as one tourist destination.
Speaking at the third annual summit for regional city mayors on Friday, Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra said leaders from Phnom Penh in Cambodia, Vientiane in Laos and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam have agreed to form an alliance to promote tourism.
The "Five Cities — One Destination" project also includes Yangon in Myanmar. Officials from Yangon did not attend the Bangkok-based summit, but the city is to join the tourism alliance.
The alliance has identified five key aims, the governor said. It will promote and support cultural affairs as the foundation of tourism; enhance tourist safety; build regional standards to increase the confidence of tourists; create new tourism routes between the cities; and help promoe campaigns launched by member cities.
He said the alliance's first commitment is to provide an international cultural exchange programme for representatives of member cities in Bangkok. This is because Bangkok is currently the host for the Lower Mekong Cities Summit. The next summit will be held in Phnom Penh next year.
MR Sukhumbhand said the alliance also plans to convince leaders from other cities in the Mekong region to collaborate in the project. Existing land transport routes in the region are improving, making it easier for people with cars and motorcycles to travel, he said.
Each member city will have its own tourism "vision" under the alliance. Bangkok aims to promote itself as the gateway to Asean, while Yangon plans to upgrade its domestic and international transport infrastructure and focus on eco-tourism.
Vientiane will focus on the development of sustainable tourism based on cultural, natural and historical resources.
Phnom Penh has a broad plan to develop and integrate tourism in the city, while Ho Chi Minh City is trying to develop its waterways tourism, attract more international conferences and exhibitions and boost eco-tourism.