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Mekong Tourism Investment Summit to be held in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR

Travel News Asia 26 January 2006

The first Mekong Tourism Investment Summit will take place March 28-30, in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR. The objective of the summit is to encourage investment in tourism projects throughout the Mekong river region.

Up to 200 delegates will discuss the profile of the Mekong region as an expanding tourism destination. The emphasis will be on linking tourism investors with business opportunities that benefit local communities. The summit, hosted by the Lao National Tourism Administration, will recommend action to overcome obstacles to growth.

Dr Paul Rogers, senior tourism adviser, with SNV, a Netherlands development organisation in Lao PDR, said, "Up-to-date information on investment procedures for the six Mekong region countries will be disseminated and new investment opportunities promoted. Investors will have the chance to discuss projects and investment procedures with government authorities."

Bangkok Airways, Amadeus Asia Pacific, Best Western Asia, Diethelm Travel, Incentive House Asia and TTR Weekly sponsor the event which is supported by Lao Airlines, SNV, the Asian Development Bank and the Pacific Asia Travel Association.

Major features of the event will include:

- user-friendly documents detailing tourism investment procedures
- presentations from entrepreneurs profiling investment success stories
- case studies of pioneering community-private sector partnerships. 
- breakout sessions on improving the investment environment
- Mekong-region country booths

Outcomes will be tabled at the Mekong-region tourism ministers dialogue which will take place at the PATA Annual Conference in Pattaya, Thailand, April 24. The Mekong Tourism Investment Summit takes over from 10 years of sub-regional tourism cooperation at the PATA-organised Mekong Tourism Forum. In February the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office will be set up in the Thailand Ministry of Tourism and Sport in Bangkok under the direction of its newly-appointed Executive Director, Mr. Stephen Yong.

PATA Vice President-Development, Mr Peter Semone said, "Cooperation between the Mekong-region countries has come a long way in the last 10 years. We now want to encourage the private sector to take up the reins and drive responsible tourism growth in the Mekong region. The investment summit in Luang Prabang is the first step in that direction."

PATAs third quarter 2005 international visitor arrival statistics show strong demand for Mekong-region destinations. Compared to third quarter 2004, Cambodia recorded an increase of 35.3%, Lao PDR 23.8%, Thailand 6.7%, Vietnam of 11.3%, Chinas southern province of Yunnan 43.9%, and Guangxi province 27.2%. Myanmars performance was down by - 7%.

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