Mekong Institute (MI), with support of the Mekong-Republic of Korea Cooperation Fund (MKCF), organized two roadshows, one in Ayutthaya, Thailand on November 18 and the other in Siem Reap, Cambodia on November 21 under the “Sustainable and Smart Tourism Development in the Mekong Region” project. The roadshows aimed to enhance the knowledge and understanding of stakeholders in the tourism industry while highlighting opportunities in sustainable and smart tourism and introducing new tools, techniques, and technologies.
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an unprecedented crisis for the tourism industry in the Mekong countries, all of which rely heavily on the revenue and income generated by the tourism sector. In the meantime, the rapid development of digital platforms has also led to significant changes in the consumer behavior of tourists, businesses, and the industry. Against this context, information technologies present a great opportunity for Mekong countries to rethink their approach to tourism and find solutions to revitalize and redesign the sector to be more resilient and sustainable.
Specifically, the project roadshow sought to:
- Introduce a newly designed smartphone application to the local stakeholders and potential users
- Confirm and validate the Points of Interest (PoI) data for the mobile application content such as community-based tourism actors, sustainable tourism social enterprises, relevant digital media and travel bloggers, and cultural tourism actors
- Exchange local insights and experience in sustainable and smart tourism
- Promote local cooperation and integration of sustainable and smart tourism in the selected heritage sites of the Mekong countries
- Showcase local products and services, traditional music, and cultural arts
To reach its objectives, the roadshow featured various activities such as a session to exchange insights and experience in sustainable and smart tourism, input presentation from the industry, a Q&A session, and a showcase of local products and services, traditional music, and cultural arts through exhibitions, performing arts, photo contests, and videography.
Event highlights were the introduction of a newly designed mobile application, a presentation on the Korean traveler market and Korea’s Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), and an exhibition by local enterprises showcasing their sustainability- focused products and community-based tourism services.
Events like this are also crucial for the project team to hear from various stakeholders regarding their businesses such as new trends, challenges or opportunities in the post COVID-19 era. The insights gained were valuable as the mobile application is being developed. Once fully functional with a sustaining revenue model for maintaining the app independently, the mobile app is intended to be transferred to local ownership.
The events in Ayutthaya and Siem Reap were attended by some 50 relevant stakeholders from both the public and private sectors.
In January 2023, three similar roadshows will be organised in Luang Prabang of Lao PDR, Hue of Viet Nam, and Bagan of Myanmar. As UNESCO heritage sites in the Mekong region, these cities have a lot to offer in terms of their historical and cultural significance in each country's tourism industry and are expected to benefit greatly from the project activities.
Ultimately, the three-year project seeks to introduce smart tourism tools, techniques, and technologies through learning exchanges, structured learning visits, information sharing, and promoting best practices. In the end, the project hopes to help expand small entrepreneurial businesses and deepen cultural interconnectedness and appreciation among and between cities of the Republic of Korea and the Mekong region countries. For more information, please visit here.
The roadshow events for Luang Prabang, Hue, and Pagan are coming up in January 2023. Currently, the project is calling for entries to participate in photo and vlog contests from each of the five locations. For more information on the Photo and Vlog Contests, please visit here.