CHIANGRAI TIMES – The Mekong Tourism Forum 2012 will take place in Chiang Rai, Thailand, 13 to 14 June. The forum will address the theme, “20/20 Vision: Building on Two Decades of GMS Cooperation.”
The event will be hosted at the Dusit Island Resort Hotel located in the heart of this far north town, currently celebrating its 750th anniversary.
Organizers claim they will assess the challenges of human resources, pro-poor sustainable tourism, sub-regional product development and marketing for the next 20 years, in light of achievements in the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) over the last 20 years.
Speakers will deliver assessments of what progress has – and has not – been accomplished by Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and donors such as the Asian Development Bank. The group was established in 1992 to build the Greater Mekong Sub-region as a single tourism destination
The speaker line-up has still to be finalized. It was learned that a signature presentation will be made on Thailand’s Royal Projects.
The GMS countries are collectively targeting 52 million international tourist arrivals and US$53 billion in sub-regional tourism revenue by 2015. There were 10 million arrivals in 1995, rising to 35 million in 2011.
“A great deal has been achieved,” said Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, executive director, Mason Florence. “Multi-country holidays are now common in the GMS, but we still need to reduce red tape, increase cross-border flows and boost sustainable tourism in rural areas where incomes are still too low,” he said.
Participants will address the recent changes in Myanmar and the impact of ASEAN Economic Cooperation, due in 2015. There will be a session on how private and public sector tourism operators in the GMS can better leverage the shift to electronic distribution, social media, and mobile.
“Anyone with a stake in the future of tourism in the GMS should be at the forum,” said Florence.
However, the organisers overlooked national travel associations when offering registration discounts, until this publication pointed out national travel associations deserved the same discounts handed to PATA and SKAL members.
The registration fee is US$375, with a special early bird rate of US$275 on offer until 15 May. Members of selected GMS tourism associations (not identified in the press statement) may register at a reduced rate of US$245.
The conference fee includes access to the two-day conference, coffee breaks, lunches, dinners and complimentary post-forum tours 15 June. Accompanying spouses or life partners can pay US$150 to join social events.
For programme information visit www.MekongTourismForum.org