Phu Quoc island hosted a workshop on January 29 to discuss tourism cooperation between An Giang and Kien Giang provinces and Can Tho city.

Robert Travers, a foreign expert on Destination Development and Management of the EU-ESRT Programme, said a key challenge is the chronically short length of stay (just one night), with Vietnam being seen as an excursion or add-on destination rather than a leisure destination in its own right.

To address this, tourism businesses and the Government should come together to adopt a market-led approach, targeting longer staying visitor segments in the domestic and international markets, he said.

The experts attending the workshop suggested that the industry and Government should work more closely together in the Mekong Delta to create tourism hubs of excellence that can offer unique experience.

They said the delta needs to be different from other parts of Vietnam, warning that at the moment the thrust of development is making it like everywhere else.

They suggested that quality riverside resorts and lodges, expanded water-based options, better orchards and agro-tourism visits, and higher quality homestay are needed to enhance the Mekong tourism products.

The workshop was held to provide technical support from the EU-ESRT following a High level meeting on tourism cooperation between the three Mekong Delta destinations held in Rach Gia, Kien Giang province, last October.

At the event, representatives of the three localities signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation to develop tourism in the region.

To enhance product competitiveness and public-private dialogue, the EU-ESRT initiated and supported Destination Management Organisations in eight north-western provinces, three central coastal provinces and three Mekong Delta localities.

The workshop was chaired by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism with technical support from the EU-funded Environmentally and Socially Responsible Tourism Capacity Development Programne (known as the EU-ESRT Programme).

The workshop was seen as an opportunity for the EU-ESRT Programme to report about the results obtained by a team of international and domestic experts who recently visited the three Mekong localities.

Their aim was to study and support development of tourism products and make destination promotion plans.

The workshop was attended by 50 delegates from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the VNAT, the European Union Delegation to Vietnam, tourism administrators from the three localities, and tourism colleges and operators in the region.-VNA