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Creative4Mekong (2024, Mekong Institute)

Promoting Creative Industry for Heritage Tourism Development in the Mekong Region



With support from the Mekong – Republic of Korea Cooperation Fund (MKCF), the Mekong Institute (MI) organized an inception meeting to formally launch and kick off the project on Promoting Creative Industries for Heritage Tourism Development in the Mekong Region (Creative4Mekong) through an online platform on 3rd April 2024. The project's objective is to enhance the economic potential of the creative industries in the five Mekong countries by strengthening creative industries for cultural heritage conservation and tourism development in the World Heritage Sites for socio-economic development.


The Inception Meeting for the Launching of the project and formation of the Project Advisory Committee was opened by Mr. Madhurjya Kumar Dutta, Director of the MKCF Unit and Trade and Investment Facilitation (TIF) Department, on behalf of the MI Executive Director. It was followed by the introduction of the project, project work plan and timeline, and the roles and responsibilities of the Project Advisory Committee, and ended with discussion and remarks from representatives from the five Mekong countries and all stakeholders.


A total of thirty-six (36) delegates attended from concerned ministries and departments, as well as the private sector, representing government agencies related to tourism, culture, hotels, fine arts, commerce, intellectual property rights, heritage sites, creative industries associations, and tourism associations in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam (CLMTV) countries. Additionally, representatives from international organizations, including UNESCO's Bangkok office and the British Council, were present.

 

The creative industry plays a vital role in boosting the cultural tourism sector in the Mekong countries, significantly contributing to their economies. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted this sector. Heritage sites, in particular, are experiencing slower recovery compared to other areas, and the situation varies among countries due to differences in economic development levels and their ability to respond and recover. This has put cultural skills and knowledge at risk as workers leave in search of new opportunities, taking their local artisanal skills and cultural understanding with them, potentially leading to the disappearance of traditional heritage and the foundation of cultural knowledge associated with key heritage monuments. Heritage locations are crucial to the tourism sector as they uniquely contribute to the cultural identity of the Mekong countries.

Micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are significant economic contributors in the Mekong region. However, there is a lack of clarity in classifying businesses within the creative industries and those outside this sector. This classification is crucial as creative industries require tailored policy approaches, unlike most MSMEs. Establishing a regionally agreed-upon taxonomy and definition for creative and cultural sectors is imperative for crafting effective support policies and incentives. Unfortunately, MSMEs in the creative industry have not received adequate attention as economic drivers, resulting in insufficient policy support and technical assistance to enhance their competitiveness. Additionally, most Mekong countries are still developing their Intellectual Property (IP) protection regimes, vital for nurturing a thriving creative economy. Strengthening IP rights is crucial for safeguarding creativity and controlling the commercial exploitation of products of scientific, technological, and cultural creation, thereby fostering economic growth and international competitiveness.


Given the vital role of heritage locations in the tourism sector and their unique contributions to the cultural identity of the Mekong countries, multilateral and regional coordination is essential to address the challenges faced by the cultural and creative industries sector and ensure their resilience, growth, and sustainability.


To address these issues, the Mekong Institute (MI) is implementing a three-year project titled 'Promoting Creative Industry for Heritage Tourism Development in the Mekong Region,' or 'Creative4Mekong,' from March 2024 to February 2027. Funded by the Mekong—ROK Cooperation Fund (MKCF), the project focuses on strengthening creative industries, cultural heritage conservation, and tourism development for socio-economic recovery with a digital platform in selected five World Heritage Sites of Mekong countries: Siem Reap (Cambodia), Luang Prabang (Laos), Bagan (Myanmar), Ayutthaya (Thailand), and Hue (Vietnam).


To formally launch the project, the MI organized the project inception meeting with the appointed Project Advisory Committee (PAC) and key stakeholders. The purpose was to introduce the project objectives, activities, and expected outcomes and to seek cooperation from the stakeholders for the successful implementation of the project. It took place on Wednesday, April 3, 2024, from 9:00 am to 11:15 am via an online platform.



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