The Adventure Travel Trade Association participated in the first Mekong Tourism Forum Marketing Workshop, in Da Nang, Vietnam on June 15, 2015. The theme of the workshop was “Unlocking the Potential of the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) via Innovative Partnerships.” To this end, Mekong Tourism invited several organizations to facilitate workshops, the outputs of which were designed to inform the GMS marketing strategy.
The Greater Mekong Sub-region consists of six countries along the Mekong River: China (Yunnan Province), Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand. Under the banner of “Six Countries, One River,” the GMS seeks to attract tourists on thematic routes that go through several GMS countries.
The other participating organizations were UNWTO (Cruise Tourism), Thamassat University (Food Tourism) and PATA (Community Based Tourism). Each organization presented their theme and workshop format to the entire group, and then discussed the opportunities and challenges in breakout sessions.
Natasha Martin, an associate of the ATTA, presented the adventure theme to the group and facilitated the workshop. She shared relevant data from recent ATTA studies, including the Adventure Pulse, Market Sizing Report and ATDI 2015 to set the stage for the discussion.
The working group for the adventure session was made up of a good cross section of different stakeholders, including tourism board representatives, tour operators, donors and NGOs. The group used the pyramid framework provided by the organizers to look at key issues facing adventure tourism development in the GMS.
Ensuring the safety and security of tourists, especially for activities containing some element of risk, was a top concern for product development. This was confirmed by looking at the ATDI (Adventure Travel Development Index) scores of the GMS countries, where the safety and health scores are low.
When looking at promotion, the group identified a lack of budget and collaboration to creating necessary materials. But the number one challenge the group identified was an issue of positioning. The GMS is not currently positioned as a competitive adventure destination, and good branding, implemented by a strong marketing strategy needs to address this. The group recommends an adventure sub-brand be created under a GMS destination brand.
The ATTA looks forward to building the partnership with Mekong Tourism Association and supporting the development of adventure tourism in the region.