Representatives from private and public tourism sectors, social and development organisations, and media from the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) gathered in the central city of Da Nang on June 15 for a forum to discuss measures to promote sustainable tourism development in the region.

The annual forum aims to introduce trends and tourism development and seek effective ways to strengthen the tourism industry in the GMS, which boasts the most rapid development speed in Asia and Pacific Ocean.

During the five-day event, participants emphasised the importance of boosting connectivity and partnership among travel agencies and tourism sectors in GMS nations to fully tap the potential of the region and turn it into a unique tourist destination.

Steven Schipani, an expert from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Laos said it is necessary to develop tourism in such a way that benefits the community and ensures environmental protection.

ADB is involved in tourism initiatives in the GMS because it sees strong tourism management in the region and the sector is supporting poverty reduction efforts and pushing economic growth in GMS countries, he noted.

Statistics revealed that around 52 million tourists visited the GMS in 2013, up 17 percent from 2012. Since 2002, the number of foreign arrivals to the region has increased about 12 percent per year, helping the GMS account for 3 percent of the global tourism market share.

As part of efforts to facilitate win-win economic cooperation among GMS countries including Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, and China’s Yunnan and Guangxi provinces, this year’s forum is discussing topics related to cuisine tourism, discovery tourism, community-based tourism, transnational culture tourism and the use of social media for marketing and luring travellers to the region.-VNA