Tuesday, October 28, 2008
The Mekong Discovery Trail guidebook was officially launched yesterday afternoon at the Cambodiana Hotel. Private sector tour operators and the like were invited alongwith the good and the great from the Ministry of Tourism, presided over by HE So Mara, the Secretary of State. This was my first official function of this nature and once the speeches and formalities were done - the launch appeared later on the local tv news - we got to see the guidebooks. The initial print run is 5,000 and like their website, it's a thoroughly professional production. The folks at the Dutch NGO SNV have been behind this project and they have certainly given it a good base from which to grow. The Mekong River has been under-utilised as a feature in Cambodia's appeal to visitors with the dolphins at Kratie capturing the headlines to-date. The Trail will shift that focus onto an eco-tourism footing that will couple the attraction of the dolphins with a series of other activities to appeal to foreign and domestic tourists alike. These include mountainbike tours, home and pagoda stays, birdwatching, cultural performances, island hopping, boat tours, horse-cart rides and more. It's time that Cambodia made better use of the extensive options the Mekong River provides and this is a good place to start. It's still in its infancy as far as infrastructure and bedding down the community services on offer are concerned, but the opportunity now exists to make it work as long as the variety of options is appealing enough to tourists and the marketing machine ensures that they are made aware of the Trail. I urge you to visit the Trail's website which like the guidebook is very professionally produced and informative.