Mekong River Discovery Trail, Cambodia
Phase IV of the ST-EP project for the creation of a discovery trail along the Mekong River has recently been completed after two years of implementation. During the initial phase, a tourism factor analysis was carried out in the region, resulting in a Tourism Development Master Plan for the town of Kratie. A second phase served to identify various tourism circuits, including the “Mekong River Discovery Trail”. The development of associated tourism products, the implementation of an investment programme, and a subsequent marketing and promotion campaign constituted the third phase of the project. This entire ST-EP project -made possible thanks to the financing of the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development (AECID), the ST-EP Foundation and SNV- covered mainly six communities in the north-east of Cambodia, where 80% of the population lives under the poverty line, and the provincial capitals of Kratie and Stung Treng.
Phase IV of the project focused on developing ecotourism products with a view to expanding the revenue sources of the local populations while at the same time conserving their natural heritage. Some twenty tourism microbusinesses have been created, including accommodation and restaurant establishments, a massage centre, and a regional tour operator whose opening was linked to the creation, by a private investor, of an eco-lodge on the island of Koh Trong.
As part of the training activities, intensive courses in business English were given to the micro-entrepreneurs, and workshops to raise awareness regarding good waste management, which is inseparable from the quality of tourism facilities, were held for the benefit of 165 participants.
Moreover, a suitable marketing strategy has made it possible to develop the brand image of the Trail. A catalogue of the tourism itineraries on the Trail has been sent to a dozen or so accommodation and restaurant establishments in Kratie, Stung Treng and Phnom Penh, and distributed to 142 tour operators in Cambodia, Laos and Thailand.
The Trail was featured, notably, in the 2010 edition of the Lonely Planet Cambodia travel guide as an itinerary in north-eastern Cambodia that is not to be missed. The Trail was presented on the occasion of various tourism events, including three major international events held in Cambodia: the Mekong Tourism Forum (MTF) in Siem Reap, in May 2010; the 30th ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF), in Phnom Penh, in January 2011; and the 3rd World Ecotourism Conference in Sihanoukville, in October 2011.
For more information, please visit www.mekongdiscoverytrail.com