The Mekong Tourism Forum 2012 will take place in Chiang Rai, Thailand, 13-14 June. The forum will address the theme, “20/20 Vision: Building on Two Decades of GMS Cooperation.”
The main focus will be to 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 a candid assessment 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 grouping united in 1992 to build the Greater Mekong Sub-region as a single tourism destination.
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.
Tourists surveyed in the six countries say that the friendly people are one of the area’s most important assets. The forum will assess how the attraction, retention, training and development of the Mekong workforce has progressed and what needs to be done.
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.
The Mekong Tourism Forum 2012 will take place in northern Thailand at the Dusit Island Resort Hotel in Chiang Rai, a city which celebrates its 750th anniversary this year.
The registration fee for MTF2012 is US$375, with a special early bird rate of US$275 on offer until 15 May. Members of PATA, SKAL and selected GMS tourism associations may register at the reduced rate of US$245. The conference fee includes full access to the two-day conference, coffee breaks, lunches, dinners and complimentary post-forum tours on 15 June. An accompanying spouse rate of US$150 is being extended to all delegates.