Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Mekong Discovery

The Mekong Discovery Trail Project is gearing up for its first real test when a party of tourism officials and agents, alongwith the media, will take a 5-day, 4-night trip to see what's on offer in late March. The project, funded by the Dutch group SNV and the World Tourism Organization, is designed to widen considerably the attractions for eco-tourism and community-based projects along the stretch of the Mekong River between Kratie and the Cambodia-Laos border. At the moment, its the Kratie dolphins and that's about it. If the MDTP gets going then the options will be increased to include other dolphin pools along the river, boat trips to unspoilt islands and beaches, cycling, homestays, walking, kyaking and canoeing, and generally, getting to see first-hand an area of Cambodia that has seen practically zero tourists - even I haven't been there! It's virgin territory for much of the proposed trail and islands such as Koh Pdao will be on the list for visiting by the test group in March. With the objectives of improving livelihoods for the locals, wildlife conservation (rare birds and turtles, as well as the dolphins inhabit the area) and getting tourists to stay longer, it's a project that is long overdue. The Mekong River should be a massive selling-point for Cambodia but aside from the dolphins just north of Kratie, at the moment, that's all there is.

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