More than 30 travel agencies from central provinces have set up their club with the aim to better serve Thai visitors who arrive through international border gates in the region.

According to Le Hung Phi, Director of the Culture, Sports and Tourism Department of Quang Binh province, the number of Thai visitors to central provinces boomed when Bridge Friendship 2 connecting Mukdahan of Thailand and Savannakhet of Laos opened to traffic, facilitating traffic on the East-West Economic corridor through 13 provinces of Vietnam , Laos , Thailand and Myanmar .

The improvement of infrastructure and visa procedures at border gates also contributed to luring more Thai tourists to the central region, Hung added.

In recent years, Thailand has been in the list of 10 key tourism markets of Vietnam . In 2010, Vietnam welcomed more than 200,000 Thai tourists, who came mainly by land routes through Lao Bao border gates in Quang Tri, Cau Treo border gate in Ha Tinh, Cha Lo border gate in Quang Binh and Nam Can border gate in Nghe An.

So far this year, Thai visitors have made up about 20 percent of foreign tourists to the central region, higher than the number of visitors from traditional markets like France , Australia and Germany .

“Land border gates will become popular routes and tourism promotion will attract large number of visitors in the future,” said Cao Tri Dung, Director of Vitours travel company.

In order to help tourism companies, the tourism sectors of Quang Nam , Da Nang and Thua Thien-Hue have organised a programme in Thailand to introduce Vietnam ’s cultural heritage sites and local tourism potential to travel companies in the north-eastern provinces of Thailand .

The Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT) has forecast that by 2015, the number of visitors travelling between Vietnam and Thailand through the East-West Economic Corridor would reach 1 million after Bridge Friendship 3 connecting Thailand and Laos is put into operation in June, 2012.

According to Vu The Binh, Director of the Travel Department of VNAT, the administration will replicate the club model among companies serving Thai visitors through other international border gates./.