CHIANGRAI TIMES – Chiang Rai Province’s Governor, Tanin Subhasaen welcomed around 200 delegates and representatives from the Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the official host of the Mekong Tourism Forum this year.
Business sessions opened Wednesday morning following Monday’s Tourism Working Group meetings attended by government representatives of the six countries of the Greater Mekong Sub-region.
Mekong Tourism Forum’s Thursday session will focus on the emerging role Myanmar will play in regional tourism following the lifting of sanctions and the introduction of reforms after national elections earlier this year.
Hosting the Mekong Tourism Forum is rotated between member countries – Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam and two provinces Yunnan and Guangxi in China.
On the sidelines of the Tourism Working Group meeting, Monday, the Asian Development Bank continued on-going discussions with Myanmar officials on the bank’s moves to reinstate aid and grants to the country that were stopped by sanctions. It is almost 26 years since Asian Development Bank was active in development projects in Myanmar.
Asian Development Bank officials confirmed they were now ready to embark on a three-pronged strategy focusing on developing sector plans for a variety of industries including tourism, technical assistance and the reintroduction of loans and grants.
Negotiations are underway on a process to pay arrears that Myanmar owed to Asian Development Bank dating back to pre-sanctions days.
Tourism is a lead sector in Asian Development Bank plans with a US$250,000 tourism master plan study due to start in August and funded by the Norwegian government. It will take around six months to complete the master plan that will go out for bid possibly as early as this August.
Asian Development Bank units are already working on sector plans for other industries including agriculture, fisheries and transport, while tourism gets the first technical assistance grant that will focus on the five-year tourism plan.