Vietnam’s cultural minister joined his counterparts from the five other countries in the Mekong sub-region in Can Tho city on Dec. 2 to discuss culture and tourism.

At a talk held within the framework of the “Mekong-Japan Festival of Tourism and Culture”, Vietnam ’s Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Hoang Tuan Anh, along with the other ministers, agreed that the Mekong region is one of the world’s most attractive tourist destinations.

Through Mekong-Japan cooperation, a number of culture and tourism programmes have been undertaken, the participants noted, adding that tourist arrivals, in general, to Mekong countries have been on the rise.

Mekong countries welcomed 1.6 million Japanese tourists in 2008 but the result still falls short of its potential, they said.

The ministers emphasised the necessity for close cooperation with Japan to share experiences and market information to develop new tours and promotion programmes to build up the image of the Mekong region as a tourist destination.

Minister Hoang Tuan Anh proposed that both sides coordinate with the ASEAN-Japan Centre to promote tourism activities in the region and jointly carry out tourism safety programmes to create an image of a safe and secure holiday destination. Both sides should work with the Mekong Area Tourism Promotion Committee of the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA) to achieve these goals, he said.

The minister added that Mekong countries look forward to further assistance from Japan in preserving their cultural heritages--and taking full economic advantage of their unique value--as well as effectively coping with climate change./.