Source: Vientiane Times
Eleven provinces across four countries in the upper Mekong basin have agreed to join in a development cooperation agreement that will seek sustainable tourism integration across the sub-region and its borders.
Officials from these provinces signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the mechanism of their cooperation last Saturday at the conclusion of a half-day meeting held in the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone in Bokeo province.
Under the MoU, the provinces have agreed to cooperate on tourism advertising, cross border facilities and tourism infrastructure development including tourism route connectivity, human resource development, and integration facilitation for international tourists.
The provinces include Bokeo, Luang Namtha, Oudomxay, Phongsaly, Luang Prabang and Xayaboury of Laos; Xishuangbanna prefecture of China; Sonla and Dien Bien Phu of Vietnam; as well as Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai provinces of Thailand.
Looking towards tourism advertising, participants will look to cooperate in building a single website for a more systematic approach with tourism sites, routes, accommodation, restaurants and security guidance for each province being listed.
In addition, the provinces have agreed that free Wi-Fi will be provided at most tourism services destinations to provide better communication for tourists.
Speaking at the meeting, Bokeo province Deputy Governor Dr Khamking Euaymanihak said “The free Wi-Fi will be a channel of advertising where visitors can share their travel experiences including tourist sites and attractions with their friends directly and timely.”
Another important aspect of the agreement includes cooperation in identifying cross-border tourism points and investing in these areas to attract more tourists to identified sites. The provinces will also look to provide mutual assistance in the promotion and improvement of tourism infrastructure namely identified tourist sites, hotels, restaurants, and tourist services facilities in equal quality and to similar standards.
Provinces will seek to cooperate in building more systematic and integrated facilities that will be more convenient, comprehensive, faster and modern, such as the improvement of the transportation systems between countries including the road links between Huayxai, Luang Namtha and Xieng Khuang in Laos and Kunming in China, the road between Huayxai in Laos and Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai in Thailand, and the road between Huayxai and Oudomxay in Laos and Dien Bien Phu, Son La, and Nge An in Vietnam.
The parties will also identify ideal upstream Mekong River water tourism routes and goods transportation routes linking all four countries, which according to the programme, could be the ‘Lancang River Tour’ which will connect the provinces of Xieng Khuang, Chiang Sen, Bokeo, Xayaboury, Oudomxay, and Luang Prabang.
Improvement of tourist service mechanisms at border crossing points for more convenient and faster border crossing will further be a focus of the cooperation through timely supervision and coordination between officers at the international border checkpoints who can promptly deal will any difficulties which may disturb tourists at these checkpoints.