Vietnam Proposes Tourism Greater Mekong Sub-projects

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To help countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region develop tourism from 2006-2015, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will fund a Technical Support for Sustainable Tourism Development in the Greater Mekong Sub-region project. The Vietnam General Administration of Tourism (VNAT) has drawn-up six sub-project plans which it hopes ADB will finance as a part of the larger project. (Caption: Preserving the cultures of the ethnic peoples of the Central Highlands is of great significance to Vietnam).

The Vietnam General Administration of Tourism recently hosted a Sustainable Tourism Development in the Greater Mekong Sub-region workshop at which the six sub-projects were discussed.

It is desired that the six sub-projects be implemented from January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2012. The sub-projects would promote tourism in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, preserve the cultural legacy of the ethnic peoples in Gia Lai, facilitate tourism along the East-West economic corridor, increase tourism in A Luoi district to eradicate hunger and reduce poverty, upgrade Vietnams border crossings, and train hotel and tourism staff and managers.

The head of Sustainable Tourism Development Consulting Group, Ludwig Riedr, appreciated the objectives of VNATs six sub-projects. As for the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park sub-project, there are two villages now within the park and six others within the buffer zone surrounding the park. The local people are subsistence farmers, they are not to clear more land for agricultural production and yet they grow very little. At this time most of these people go into the National Park and cut and remove aloe wood to sell. This constant incursion into the park is causing significant damage to the park while by removing these trees their lives are little improved. Under this sub-project, solid waste in the park would be treated and stores would be built. Villagers would be trained to work as tourist guides and they could invite tourists to stay at their homes. This would be a source of income for local people, and would give them a personal interest in preserving the parks biodiversity.

The sub-project to preserve the cultural legacy of the ethnic community in Gia Lai would also address hunger and poverty alleviation. Foreign tourists have shown that they are concerned about the well being of the ethnic people of Gia Lai and the continued existence of their cultures and therefore preserving the cultures of the ethnic peoples of the Central Highlands is of great significance to Vietnam.

Increased tourism is to raise the standard of living of the people in A Luoi district in Thua Thien Hue province. Under the proposed sub-project, the Vietnam General Administration of Tourism, working with the Sustainable Tourism Development Consulting Group and funded by the Asian Development Bank, would promote community-oriented tourism in the region. Tourists would be bused into the communes and villages of the Pa Co and Ta Oi ethnic groups and the villagers could then sell their traditional handicrafts to these foreign visitors. Local people would obtain market updates, improve their marketing skills, take part in tourism activities, and obtain access to various products and services. Women could learn about standard cultural norms, gender equity, and have contact with the outside world. A VNAT representative predicts now that if this project was funded and went smoothly, 76,000 visitors would come to A Luoi by 2015. If true, local peoples incomes would most likely be improved significantly and their lifestyle would change dramatically.
As for tourism along the East-West economic corridor, this sub-project seeks funding to build a tourism information center in the region. Visitors could learn about tourist sites and the customs and habits of the people of Quang Tri before visiting the Lalu village hot stream and the Khe Sanh battlefield. The center is to be magnificent so that visitors would want to stay.

Improving the appearance of the border area is important because tourists arent usually drawn to bad looking areas. Some of the money provided for this sub-project would go towards creating a real parking area and signs in English and Chinese.

The sub-project to train hotel and tourism staff and managers would involve establishing vocational training centers. At the workshop, participants evaluated the objectives of the Technical Support for Sustainable Tourism Development in the Greater Mekong Sub-region that could include the six sub-projects proposed by the Vietnam General Administration of Tourism. The project would not only alleviate hunger and poverty, it would also improve the quality of community tourism in Vietnam.

(Source: Vietnam Economic News)

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