Mekong Institute (MI), with the support of the Mekong-Republic of Korea Cooperation Fund (MKCF), is currently implementing “Sustainable and Smart Tourism Development in the Mekong Region”. The project is designed to introduce smart tourism tools, techniques, and technologies through learning exchanges, structured learning visits, information-sharing, and adoption of best practices. Such investments are geared to expand small entrepreneurial businesses and deepen cultural interconnectedness and appreciation among and between cities of the Republic of Korea and the Mekong region countries.
More specially, the project aims to create “smart cities” to strengthen the five Mekong countries’ capacities in meeting the fast-rising and highly competitive tourism inbound market through collaboration and working closely with National Tourism Organizations, tourism associations, technical partners, and local destination management companies of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
As part of the project, a digital tangible infrastructure on Mekong Heritage Mobile Application is developed that can support a new data model of smart tourism and stimulate innovative entrepreneurial spirit among local tourist providers. It aims to provide comprehensive information on the key attractions, tourism services, and products of the five UNESCO heritage sites located in Mekong countries, namely Ayutthaya (Thailand), Siem Reap (Cambodia), Luang Prabang (Lao PDR), Hue (Vietnam), and Bagan (Myanmar). By utilizing the app, users can gain insights into the diverse heritage sites, explore their historical significance, and discover the fascinating stories behind them.
To further support the selected heritage sites located in Mekong countries in approaching investment opportunities, widening business linkages, and fostering partnerships with prospective investors that prioritize technology transfer and skill development for mutual advantage for further extended engagement, with the goal of driving economic growth while promoting smart and sustainable tourism in the heritage towns of Mekong countries.
MI is organizing a series of Investment Forum in the Mekong countries with the participation of prospective investors from Korea and beyond. The forum will be conducted in two phases. The first phase will commence in Thailand and Myanmar and second phase will follow by Lao PDR, Cambodia and Vietnam, respectively. In Mynmar, the forum is scheduled on 4th October 2023 at Park Royal Hotel, Yangon.
Bagan, nestled in Myanmar’s Mandalay Region, is an emblem of the nation’s profound cultural and historical lineage. Originating from the 9th century, this ancient city boasts over 2,000 meticulously preserved temples, pagodas, and monasteries, making it a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2019.
While Bagan’s heritage serves as a magnet for global tourism, its economic potential hinges notably on sustainable and smart investments. The consistent tourist influx provides the impetus for investments in sustainable hospitality — think eco-resorts, green hotels, and cultural immersion programs that respect and uphold the region’s sanctity. Infrastructure development, framed within sustainable guidelines, is paramount. This includes renewable energy-powered transportation, digital solutions for seamless visitor experiences, and smart waste management systems.
Bagan’s local handicraft industry, particularly its famed lacquerware and textiles, offers investors opportunities to support and scale eco-friendly production techniques, aligning with global sustainable market demands. Furthermore, there’s potential in fostering innovation hubs or incubators promoting smart technologies tailored to heritage site preservation and sustainable tourism management.
The specific objectives of the investment forum are:
- To provide a platform for Ayutthaya authorities and stakeholders to present the needs and opportunities at heritage Ayutthaya town, and for investors to present their products/services and interest areas.
- To create connections for further engagement between stakeholders, fostering deeper understanding and collaboration for sustainable investments.
- To present the Mekong Heritage Mobile Application to stakeholders for further utilization.
- To explore the sites for potential investment locations, allowing investors to gain first-hand experience of the regions and their potential.
By mid-November, five investment forums will be held across the Mekong Heritage Provinces. The investment forums are expected to lay a solid foundation for propelling sustainable and smart tourism development through strategic collaborations with both Korean and local investors. These crucial partnerships are poised to drive economic growth, foster environmental stewardship, and uplift local communities in the region.
The Forum will bring a group of 25 individuals, comprising Korean investors, local investors, and Bagan authorities. Key local stakeholders will include, but not be limited to, representatives from local tourism authorities and associations, ecotourism and community-based tour operators, and advocates of sustainable tourism.