Five ASEAN nations create alliance


CHIANG MAI, 10 June 2016: A new alliance to promote flight connectivity and tourism packages among destination partners — Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand — should boost the region’s tourism.

Tourism representatives from the CLMVT countries formally launched the newest marketing alliance at the Thailand Travel Mart Plus 2016, Thursday.

Tagged CLMVT, the group is will conduct joint tourism promotions under a common banner and logo  “CLMVT Link: Prosper Together”.

inside no 2During the launch press conference, Thursday, Tourism Authority of Thailand governor, Yuthasak Supasorn, said country alliances are used as a key strategic tool to boost tourism, which in turn strengthens economies.

“Today is the first step for CLMVT, we are joining hands to demonstrate we can cooperation to encourage the region tourism industry.”

The alliance has its roots in the an earlier grouping known as CLMV that was established to promote aviation routes and tour packages between Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. It was first convened during the ITE a trade show in Ho Chi Minh City 11 years back.

In 2013,  the tourism leaders from the four nations extended an invitation to Thailand, through the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, to join the alliance and informal meetings have been held since as a sub-committee of ASEAN. Now at TTM  the alliance has been formerly launched to the trade.

“To boost the region’s tourism industry, TAT has talked with local airlines such as Thai Airways International, Thai Smile, Bangkok Airways, Thai AirAsia and Nok Air to study ways to open more direct flights in the region.”

Upcoming intra-regional direct flights will include Thai AirAsia’s new daily Bangkok – Vientiane flight starting 1 July. Bangkok Airways is considering a new daily flights from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang possibly in  October. Meanwhile, Nok Air plans to launch three weekly flights between Bangkok and Mandalay around October or November this year.

“The increase in airline connectivity will boost regional tourism….CLMVT has potential to promote tourism products and extend the footprint of tour packages across the five countries,” Yuthasak explained.

ASEAN countries welcomed slightly more than 98 million international tourists to the region, last year, up 7.3%, the TAT governor noted. CLMVT members represented around 26.8 million of those arrivals in 2010, rising to 44.42 million in 2014, or about 42% of the total visitors to ASEAN.

“These statistics show the potential of the CLMVT market as well as its importance to the ASEAN Community. CLMVT countries is a sub-grouping of ASEAN, but if it can strengthen unity, it will ultimately benefit the ASEAN platform.”

Besides air connectivity the group will develop tour package routes, attend roadshow and travel fairs to boost travel.

Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism deputy general director, Try Chhiv, said that spreading the flow of tourists from packed attractions to secondary destinations was a priority.

“Cambodia will promote green sustainable tourism…to the coastal area and northeast regions to take the pressure off Siem Reap, home of Angkor Wat.”

Lao PDR’s Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism’s Public Relations Division Tourism Marketing Department director, Manisakone Thammavongxay, agreed that increasing aviation and transport links between the countries would help encourage the region’s tourism industry.

Myanmar’s Ministry of Hotels and Tourism deputy general director, Khin Than Win, said more low-cost airline services were needed to fill the connectivity gaps in the region.

“Currently, only Thai AirAsia and Nok Air offer low-cost services to Myanmar….increasing low-cost travel will help to boost tourism….in addition, we will open more border checkpoints to encourage tourism and trade in border provinces.”

Vietnam National Administration of Tourism’s Tourism Marketing Department deputy general director, Vu Nam, said familiarisation trip for tour operators and media would be hosted in CLMVT region.

“Besides air connectivity between destinations in the region, we also need to create more tourism products and link destinations through themed tour packages.”

Commenting on criticism that the alliance would duplicate the work of the Mekong Tourism Office, established and funded by the same five countries plus China, the TAT governor countered: “There are many platforms promoting tourism… we are part of the GMS (Greater Mekong Sub-region) and also ASEAN, all platforms we use to promote tourism.”

Funding will be on a project basis, he said, probably split five ways, but in some instances a lead partner could underwrite a bigger share of a project’s costs.

The group has convened as a sub-committee under ASEAN’s tourism umbrella. Now the alliance says it will embark on joint promotions starting with attendance at trade show and the exchange of tourism information to be channelled through country tourism offices worldwide.  Thailand has 26 offices overseas that will assist in distribution.