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 Laos PDR, Cambodia and Vietnam respectively. In Thailand, the forum is scheduled on 2nd October 2023 at Classic Kameo Hotel, Ayutthaya.
Ayutthaya was the capital of the Kingdom of Siam (now Thailand) from 1351 to 1767 and was a prosperous and influential city, with a rich history and culture that reflects its role as a center of trade, politics, and religion in Southeast Asia. From the 14th to the 18th centuries, Ayutthaya thrived as one of the largest and most diverse metropolises globally, becoming a hub of international trade and diplomacy. Its strategic position on an island enclosed by three rivers made it easily accessible to the sea. The site was chosen because it was situated beyond the tidal bore of the Gulf of Siam, which served as a safeguard against attacks by foreign naval vessels. Additionally, the location prevented seasonal flooding, ensuring the city’s security.
Today, Ayutthaya is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist destination in Thailand, with many historical and cultural attractions to explore. Its proximity to Bangkok makes it an easy day trip or a great weekend getaway. Like many other tourist destinations in Thailand, Ayutthaya has seen a significant increase in digital adoption for tourism services in recent years. With the widespread use of smartphones and the internet, tourists have become more reliant on digital technology to plan and book their trips.
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 up to 25 individuals, comprising Korean investors and key local stakeholders. Key stakeholders will include representatives from local tourism authorities and associations, ecotourism and community-based tour operators, Ayutthaya’s OTOP food product and souvenir centers, Ayutthaya fine arts and musical instrument associations, think tank institutions, and advocates of sustainable tourism.