River-based tourism to boom in Mekong Delta hinh anh 1A floating market in Mekong River.(Source: vietbao)

Da Nang (VNA) - Member countries in the Mekong River region including Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam should build up long-term strategies and action plans to boost cooperation in river-based tourism in the future.

Harry Hwang, deputy regional director regional programme for Asia and the Pacific of World Tourism Organisation, said at the Mekong River-based Tourism Product Development workshop in the central city of Da Nang.

He said the region has identified 14 products and the Mekong-based tourism is a crucial product.

"It has a lot of potential, and each country should do more investment in infrastructure and facilities in matching the service from country to country," Hwang said.

"A series of items including ports, accommodation, navigation, environment and service are needed to be developed each country for the river-based tourism," he said.

A deputy head of the Vietnam National Tourism Administration, Ha Van Sieu, said countries in the Mekong River region need to join hands to smooth the development of river-based tourism.

The river-based tourism connection among countries has seen operations among travel agencies, he said, adding that an ASEAN ministerial meeting next January will dismantle barriers for the river tour service to boom.

Peter Simon, consultant of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), presented the Strategy and Action Plan of the Mekong River-based Tourism Product Development at the workshop, saying that it will be a super product.

He said the Mekong River-based Tourism Product means many things including historical and religious sites, bird and dolphin watching, trekking, ethnic village visit, community-based tourism, day and night cruise, kayaking, fishing, cycling and camping.

He said countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region face various challenges in developing river tourism.

"There will be different factors affecting tourists use of rivers in the region including political, management, biological, recreational use, transportation, accommodation, environment, and industrial," Simon said.

"The region could host three or four day international cruises from Cambodia and Laos to Vietnam via HCM City. Cruises could dock at HCM City's ports to cruise the Mekong one day," he said.

"Vietnam’s government has invested much in the river tourism service. My Tho in Tien Giang and Vinh Xuong Check-out on the river tour was a success story," he said.

Westerners prefer camping, trekking and cycling along the Mekong, but such services have yet to be seen in the region, he noted, adding a section from the border of China to Laos has amazing scenery.

Simon also warned of challenges that regional countries should be aware of the future of river-based tourism development.

He said there are 41 ports and landings along the river, but it needs standard ports, visitor information centres, embankment and dismemberment facilities.

"First aid medical clinic with trained staffs, rescue boats, fueling facilities, road access to neighbouring tourism infrastructure, public toilet facilities that meet ASEAN standards, restaurants with international food safety and hygiene standards must be created," he detailed.

He also reminded about garbage disposal as garbage could be seen everywhere as well as navigation aids.-VNA