Leaders from Ho Chi Minh City of Vietnam, Phnom Penh of Cambodia and Vientiane of Laos gathered in HCM City on Sept. 13 for the first meeting of Mekong sub-regional tourism cities’ mayors.

The event, which took place within the framework of the 2012 International Travel Expo-HCM City, aims to the implement sustainable tourism development strategy, contributing to prioritizing toursim cooperation between cities in the Mekong sub-region.

Speaking at the meeting, Chairman of the HCM City People’s Committee, Le Hoang Quan, said the city’s tourism sector has developed strongly in recent years. In the 2006-2011 period, the number of international tourists to the city saw an average increase of more than 10 percent, accounting for about 60 percent of the country’s total number of foreign visitors. The sector contributed 43 percent and 11 percent to Vietnam’s total turnover from the non-smoke industry and the city’s GDP, respectively

He pointed out that the municipal authorities always create favourable conditions to develop tourism through a series of policies, promotion solutions and programmes on human resources training.

At the conference, the mayors of Ho Chi Minh, Phnom Penh and Vientiane signed a joint statement on intensifying and encouraging travel agencies to cooperate in information exchange and experience sharing on the tourism development planning and promotion.

They agreed to cooperate in training and developing human resources for tourism, implementing joint promotion programmes to build the Mekong Sub-region into an attractive destination, and further tighten the relations between countries in the region while strengthening exchanges with other cities outside the region.-VNA