For years Laotian widow Som Chit struggled to feed herself and her four children. Then, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) paid her to work as a cleaner in a guesthouse. Later she was given the opportunity to learn the skill of handbag design and weaving.
Chit is one of millions who have benefitted from ADB’s Mekong Tourism Development Project. The project developed tourism in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos in 2003–2011. It created some 60,000 new jobs, benefitting directly more than 300,000 people. While in 2002 the Mekong River countries were visited by barely 17 million tourists, the number exceeded 30 million in 2010. Better airports and roads have contributed to the increased tourist numbers, allowing tourists easier travel to different destinations. Altogether 4.2 million people worked in tourism in the three countries in 2010. Finland supports the Asian Development Bank from development cooperation funds.
Photo: AP / LEHTIKUVA / Heng Sinith, graphics: Juho Hiilivirta