Dispersed tourism is gaining strength as travellers seek out more meaningful experiences in off-the-beaten-track destinations.
Willem Niemeijer, CEO of YAANA Ventures, said he was among the trendsetters with Tad Fane Resort in Paksong, Laos, which opened in 1999.
“It took another two decades or so for visitor dispersion to take off, but we’re seeing this becoming a trend,” he shared.
Niemeijer attributed this to demand, environmental awareness, and lower investment costs, in addition to improved infrastructure, including the high-speed railway in Laos and the expressway that connects Phnom Penh in Cambodia with the coast.
Examples of rising destinations with strong tourism dispersal ability include Champasak in Laos, Guilin in Guangxi, China, and Kep in Cambodia.
Catherine Germier-Hamel, chief executive officer at Destination Mekong, said while countries in the Greater Mekong Subregion have become increasingly popular, they have yet to tap into their full tourism potential, especially with regards to diverse culture and natural resources.
“As a result, many destinations and sites have been overcrowded, while others remained untapped,” she observed. “Dispersed tourism can be part of a development and diversification strategy to meet new needs and interests for unique, off-the-beaten-track untapped destinations and experiences.”
Germier-Hamel noted that while dispersed tourism remains limited to niche experiences and remote destinations, there is growing interest in tourism forms that require smaller groups and take place in less visited areas.
She cited ecotourism, community-based tourism, and agritourism as
“In that case, dispersed tourism can bring additional and complementary income to local communities and help reduce disparities,” she stated.
Niemeijer added that offering these experiences forms a key part of YAANA Ventures’ business model. “For our companies, it is very important to stay on the cutting edge of new experiences, and we’re putting this into action with our lodge developments and travel products,” he told TTG Asia.