One trip, three destinations


Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam aim to maximize tourism revenues by offering a "tri-country" package

By Tommaso Magrini

The leaders of Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia are making a big effort to encourage more international tourists to visit their three countries in one trip. In what is being billed as a unique and seamless travel experience, the premiers have raised this initiative -- dubbed "One Journey, Three Destinations" -- several times in recent months during their meetings on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Jakarta and the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit in Tokyo. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet said the country will go further by hosting a conference involving tourism ministers from the three countries to develop the joint effort. Many travel agencies have already been conducting these so-called "tri-country" tours for some time. The three countries, which share borders, have complementary strengths to offer a diverse experience for travelers as they offer a blend of historical, cultural and natural heritages. Landlocked Laos is renowned for its tranquil atmosphere and vibrant cultural heritage. Cambodia boasts ancient temples and spiritual riches, while Vietnam offers a mix of vibrant cities and natural wonders set in serene countryside and the country's long coastline. Industry players said the visa issue remains one of the obstacles to overcome for the success of this tourism push between the three countries. The three governments call for a more streamlined visa process, including mutual recognition of visas, standardization of visa application procedures, unification of fees, and use of shared databases for information exchange. Since 2012, for example, Cambodia and Thailand have instituted a system that allows tourists to visit both countries with a single visa. A precedent that may soon be copied.

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