The fact that four countries including Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia
and Myanmar join forces to develop tourism is believed to bring new big
opportunities to travel firms. However, there are still many things to be done
in order to reap the fruits.
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
The participants at the 7th International Tourism Exhibition (ITE) held in HCM
City several days ago all forecast a new wave of investments in infrastructure,
hotels, resorts and entertainment complexes in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and
Myanmar in the time to come. Therefore, joining forces in the “four countries –
one destination” program will clearly help attract more international investors.
The Lao General Department of Tourism said that the country now has 1028 tourism
sites which are awaiting investments. Laos allows to have 100 percent foreign
ownership ratio in hotels and restaurants, and 30-70 percent foreign ownership
ratios in the travel firms. Tourism is the second foreign currency earner, just
after to mining, in Laos, where the tourism growth rate has been stable in the
last 20 years at 29 percent per annum.
In Myanmar, investors need to have at least 300,000 dollars to set up a legal
entity in the service sector. Foreign investors can team up with domestic
companies to set up joint ventures, while they have to contribute at least 35
percent of capital. Myanmar now has 36 hotel projects with 6560 hotel rooms, of
which 31 projects have been completed.
The international tourism organization has forecast that the tourists in the
world tend to flock to South East Asia and East Asia. In 2010, the region
surpassed America to become the second biggest region in the world, just after
Europe, in terms of the tourists, accounting for 22 percent of the world’s
market share. Meanwhile, the figure is expected to increase to 27 percent by
Statistics show that ASEAN now attracts 36 percent of the total number of
tourists worldwide, and 38 percent of the total revenue from tourism industry in
Analysts have also pointed out that joining forces with regional countries to
develop tourism is a wise move. The national flag air carrier Vietnam Airlines
said that four out of every 10 international tourists to Vietnam tend to visit
many different destinations, and three of them choose to visit Laos, Cambodia,
Great efforts needed
This is not for the first time regional countries sit together to discuss
the cooperation for tourism development. Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia once put
forward the idea of joining forces to attract tourists. A project on the tourism
sustainable development in Mekong sub-region was initiated and funded by ADB,
which aimed to develop infrastructure for tourism and push up the sub-regional
cooperation. However, the initial achievements remain modest
Therefore, Vietnamese travel firms say they need to prepare well for the “four
countries – one nation program). Tran Hung Viet, General Director of
Saigontourist, said that the travel firm has conducted a program on surveying
the trans-Indochina and Myanmar tours, and has released the publications
providing information about the four countries.
Meanwhile, Vietnam Airlines has increased the frequency of the flights on the
air routes to Siem Reap, Phnom Penh in Cambodia, and Vientiane in Laos to 106
flights per week from 59 flights currently.
Vuong Dinh Hai from CFIS Vietnam, a foreign investment research center, said
that it is necessary to make heavier investment in infrastructure in order to
pave the way for tourism development. More and more tourists travel to Vietnam
by sea, while cruises still have to dock at cargo ports, because there still are
no specific ports for receiving tourists.
Meanwhile, there has been no legal document on the development of the ports for
tourism. The overall strategy on seaport development until 2020 also does not
show the investment scale and the details of the tourism ports.