HCM CITY The packaging and marketing of Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia as a single tourism destination was a major topic of discussion at the International Tourism Investment Conference held in HCM City yesterday.
Leading tourism experts and government officials of the three countries argued that despite boasting different tourism potentials and strength, marketing and investment synergies could be achieved by combining them into one destination called 3CODe.
The two-day conference covered tourism master plans and key tourism investment opportunities in Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia.
Case studies were also presented of niche destination marketing in the three countries highlighting adventure, ecotourism, heritage, vacation ownership, luxury travel, spa and cruise.
Nguyen Van Tuan, director of the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism, said that with its favourable geographical position and special historical and cultural characteristics, Viet Nam had many advantages to develop tourism.
He said tourism strategies deployed by the country had paid off with the domestic tourism industry achieving average annual growth rate of 10 per cent.
Tuan, however, stressed the need to set up a close co-operation between Viet Nam s tourism industry and those of regional countries, particularly Laos and Cambodia, which, he said, shared many similarities.
"The Vietnamese tourism industry would develop more strongly if there are more and more regional and international enterprises investing in tourism projects, not only in Viet Nam but also in Laos and Cambodia," he said.
He hoped the conference would help international enterprises to find several investment opportunities in the tourism sectors in Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia.
Experts, however, also pointed out several difficulties that the three countries would face in materialising the 3CODe concept.
Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia did not have specific co-operation plans to realise this goal, they noted. Meanwhile, the transport infrastructure to tourism destinations in all these countries was still very poor.
So Mara, Secretary of State of the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism said, the three countries had different potentials that would be better used if they were developed together.
"However, the three countries have not yet had common co-operative programmes on developing tourism. Administrative procedures are also a big hindrance that prevents tourists from visiting within the three countries," So Mara said.
He suggested a single visa for the three countries and a common marketing programme that will include brochures, magazines and DVDs of the three countries tourism.
Soukaseum Bodhisane, vice chairman of the Lao National Tourism Administration, said,"The three countries have different tourism development capacities; however these differences do not create competition but can supplement each other."
The biggest problems facing the three countries tourism sectors were infrastructure and human resources, Soukaseum said.
"Laos plans to strengthen trade and investment activities with Viet Nam and launch several tourism promotion programmes in the country to attract more Vietnamese tourists as well as investors to Laos,"he said.
Pham Trung Luong, deputy director of the Viet Nam Institute for Tourism Development Research, also stressed the need to make a common co-operative plan to realise the 3CODe goal.
Luong also said that each country needed to seek ways to fully utilise their own tourism strengths as well.
"Viet Nam, for instance, must focus on exploiting sea tourism while Laos should promote its forests. Cambodia, for its part, should highlight its colourful and diversified cultural traditions," he said.
Luong revealed that later this month, the Vietnamese tourism sector would submit to the Government for approval a border tourism development plan comprising Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia.
The conference was jointly organised by the Vietnamese ministries of Culture, Sports and Tourism, and Planning and Investment, the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism, the People s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City, the HCMC Tourism Department, and IIR Exhibitions Pte Ltd.
It attracted the participation of more than 100 experts from tourism and relevant sectors of Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia and some other countries. VNS