As countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion slowly move toward the ‘new normal,’ they are also enacting phased approaches to implement tourism recovery. The challenge for the subregion’s travel and tourism sector is to manage and mitigate the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), and build back a more sustainable, inclusive, and resilient tourism sector.
Countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion are working together to promote the subregion as a single destination for international visitors and encourage communities to enhance the environmental, social, and economic benefits of tourism.
The Tourism Working Group (TWG) provides operational leadership and technical guidance to plan, implement, monitor, and evaluate subregional activities.
This work has included marketing sustainable and pro-poor tourism in the subregion through the development of multi-country tour packages; training government officials and people working in the tourism industry; producing local products for sale to tourists; and preserving the ecological and cultural heritage of key tourist sites in the subregion.
In September 2017, ministers from the six member countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion endorsed the GMS Tourism Sector Strategy 2016-2025 to enable more competitive, balanced, and sustainable destination development.
Focal Persons at the Asian Development Bank and Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office
- Steven Schipani
Viet Nam Resident Mission,
Southeast Asia Department
- Jens Thraenhart
Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office
Other Concerned Staff & Consultants
- Rhodora Concepcion
Thailand Resident Mission,
Southeast Asia Department
- Flordeliza Melendez
Regional Cooperation and Operations Coordination Division,
Southeast Asia Department/GMS Secretariat
Send inquiries to GMS Secretariat.
The Government of Myanmar released a Strategic Roadmap for Tourism Recovery that aims to establish ‘new normal’ conditions to help tourism make a comeback.
Mr. Ohn Maung, Union Minister of Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, provided guidelines for implementation of the plan. It includes three phases:
‘Travel bubbles’ are being considered by Southeast Asian countries, including Myanmar and Thailand, as a means to safely resume travel activities. Members of the Mekong Tourism Advisory Group recommended creating travel bubbles to kickstart regional tourism in the absence of a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine in their meeting in May.
Senior officials of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) met to discuss responses to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the GMS, focusing on regional approaches to promote recovery and resilience. The meeting was held via videoconferencing on 2 June 2020, with participation from all GMS countries and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Mr. Jens Thraenhart, Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, cautioned that what makes travel in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) one of a kind is now at risk. This includes travel experiences that define the Mekong Region and small businesses that are unique to the subregion.
Cambodia and Viet Nam will continue to work together to ensure bilateral trade continues amidst border control measures implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the two countries have enforced stricter travel restrictions to tourists passing through their borders, Cambodia and Viet Nam remain open to the exchange of goods.
Through the use of modern information technology, Can Tho is transforming itself to become Viet Nam’s first smart city in the southwestern region by 2025. By transforming itself into a smart city, Can Tho hopes to further encourage civic engagement, increase competitiveness, and improve the city’s socio-economic development.
In a blog post, Mr. Arjun Goswami of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) emphasizes the importance of regional cooperation to more effectively address the transnational threat and mutual risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A press release from the Royal Government of Cambodia’s Ministry of Economy and Finance announced plans to improve facilities at border gates with Thailand and Viet Nam.
Cambodia’s border crossing points with Thailand and Vietnam are crowded with traffic of cross-border transport and tourists. The country wants to develop the necessary infrastructure to manage this traffic flow to ease cross-border transport and boost trade activities.
The Economic and Financial Policy Committee, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Aun Pornmoniroth, approved the proposal.