Growing transportation linkages breaking down barriers
Travel and tourism is growing in leaps and bounds thanks to growing air and land connectivity and accessibility within the key cities of Cambodia, Lao PDR., Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand, tourism representatives of the CLMVT countries told a media conference today.
The conference was held at the 15th Thailand Travel Mart Plus Amazing Gateway to the Greater Mekong Subregion (TTM+2016) in the Northern Thai capital of Chiang Mai.
In 2015, visitor arrivals to Cambodia grew by 6.1% to 4.78 million, to Lao PDR. up 13% to 4.7 million, to Vietnam up 0.9% to 7.9 million, Myanmar up 52% to 4.68 million and Thailand up 20% to 29.8 million. More growth is still to come as intra-regional transportation linkages grow and the national tourism organisations press ahead with joint marketing activities.
The joint press conference was organised for the first time under the theme of “CLMVT Link: Prosper Together”. It was addressed by 1) Mr. Try Chhiv, Deputy Director General, Ministry of Tourism, Cambodia; 2) Ms. Manisakhone Thammavongxay, Director of the Public Relations Division, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Lao PDR; 3) Ms. Daw Khin Than Win, Deputy Director General, Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, Myanmar; 4) Mr. Vu Nam, Deputy Director General, Tourism Marketing Department, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, Vietnam, and 5) Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Thailand.
Mr. Chhiv said that in Cambodia, travel and tourism was now one of the four main pillars of economic growth with 620,000 direct jobs and contributing US$ 3 billion (13%) to the GDP. He said the target was for travel and tourism to generate 7.5 million to 8 million visitor arrivals, creating one million direct jobs by 2020.
Ms. Manisakhon said that Lao PDR. was continuing to convert its land-locked status into a strategic advantage. She said that there were now 10 border checkpoints with Thailand, eight with Vietnam, and one each with Cambodia and Myanmar. There was air accessibility to airports in Lao PDR. from Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.
Daw Khin Than Win of Myanmar noted that airline access to her country was on the rise. Seven airlines are flying from Thailand and two from Vietnam. There are now four international checkpoints with Myanmar and Thailand and one with Lao PDR.
Mr. Vu Nam of Vietnam said that the island of Phu Quoc was being designated with a special status to promote tourism with visitors getting 30-day visa free access whether arriving by air or sea.
He said that there are now 13 flights a day from both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to Bangkok; 17 flights a week between Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap, daily flights from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh, and five flights a day from Hanoi to Siem Reap.
In addition, there are now daily flights from Hanoi to Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Yangon, and 10 flights a week from Ho Chi Minh City to Yangon. New charter flights have been launched from Vinh (Nghe An) to Bangkok from 8 June, 2016.
TAT Governor Mr. Yuthasak discussed the strong emerging potential of the Asian Highway which would make it possible to drive from Chiang Khong in Northern Thailand all the way through Lao PDR. to Kunming in China, and from Mawlyamvine in Myanmar across Thailand to Da Nang in Viet Nam.Another highway route will lead from Nakhon Phanom in Northeast Thailand through Lao PDR. to the Vietnamese capital city of Hanoi.
All this infrastructure connectivity would make it possible to undertake numerous joint projects; such as, motor caravans as well as activities like ASEAN festivals, bazaars, spiritual events, even cruise and river-based tourism.