CHIANGRAI TIMES – Chiang Rai’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports office is heading the local hosting responsibilities and approved the conference theme 20/20 Vision: Building on two decades of GMS cooperation.
Those who have attended MTF over the two decades will challenge the Mekong Tourism Office to demonstrate what has been achieved and what it intends to do to give the region a worthy online presence beyond a largely irrelevant Explore Mekong website shell.
The site was left unattended for almost two years. The MTO assigned a free lance journalist to add features last January, but they lack practical relevance to consumers.
To add further confusion to the website, the reports are awash with spam responses with links to sexy nightwear (www.sexylingeriebaby.com) and to sites selling fake watches. Explore Mekong was given a facelift, but no serious management of the site is apparent to cull spam and unauthorised links.
One practical application working on the website is the Wego booking engine that at least allows visitors to book hotels and air fares to the Mekong Region.
TTR Weekly fired off some questions to the MTO executive director, Mason Florence, on lack of a speaker line up for the MTF eight weeks out, but he is currently in Laos on a speaking engagement limiting his ability to reply to calls or emails.
But he did email a statement: “We do in fact have several speakers already confirmed and are in the process of updating the provisional agenda to reflect that. There are a few key speakers, however, that we’re still waiting for confirmation on, and expect to have clarity on them within a few days.”
In the meantime, delegates registering for the event are none the wiser about the content.
The early bird rate for registration that ends y 30 April is US$275 per person. Is it worth the investment or will delegates be entertained to yet another talk fest that fails to get to the heart of the issues impacting on Mekong Region tourism?
Once the early bird discount period ends the conference will cost US$375. The fee for spouse of a second delegate is US$150 although PATA and SKAL members can register at a discounted rate of US$245 fee.
The discounts are not being applied to industry executives who are members of national tourism organisations such as the Thai Hotels Association or the Association of Thai Travel Agents in Thailand and it understood national travel association members in other Mekong Region countries will not be given the discount offered PATA or SKAL members.
Again it could be interpreted as a narrow minded approach to who is important and needs to attend. The Mekong Tourism Office should justify why it has limited the discounts to international associations rather than supporting the associations of the Mekong Region.
The official hotels quote rates for the delegates:
• Dusit Island Resort Chiang Rai (also an official venue), from Bt2, 000 in a deluxe room, double occupancy;
• Le Méridien Chiang Rai Resort, from Bt3, 500 in a deluxe garden view room, double occupancy;
The outline of the MTF programme was distributed earlier this week. Pre-registration and cocktail reception will be hosted by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports of Thailand 12 June, while the opening ceremony and gala dinner will take place 13 June.
Topics for panel discussions and keynote presentations include: Development of Thailand’s Royal Projects; 20/20 Vision: Then and Now; Evolution of Sustainable Tourism Development in the GMS; How does the GMS measure up globally in terms of Human Capital?; 1992 to 2012: What did we actually achieve?; Developing, Training and Retaining the GMS workforce and Responsible Tourism Development in Myanmar.
Online registration for the upcoming Mekong Tourism Forum 2012, 13 to 14, June in Chiang Rai, has just been activated.
The Mekong Tourism Forum provides a cooperative platform for stakeholders in the tourism industry to discuss the development, marketing and promotion of travel to, from and within the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). It presents an inclusive, interactive and results-oriented opportunity to encourage public and private sector participation in representing the GMS as a single destination.
Delegates can go to http://mekongtourismforum.org to register and pay right up to the time the conference opens.