The 29th ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF), the region’s foremost tourism and travel event, to be hosted by member-nation, Brunei Darussalam, in Bandar Seri Begawan, from January 21-28, 2010, has registered overwhelming response. All 373 exhibiting booths at TRAVEX (Travel Exchange) have been snapped up and the ten member nations are well represented at the annual event, which showcases the best of travel products and services in ASEAN. Thailand and Malaysia lead the pack with the largest number of participating organizations.
Sheikh Jamaluddin Sheikh Mohamed, CEO of Brunei Tourism, ATF 2010 Host Committee, said: “As the global economy is already showing strong signs of recovery, this is an opportune time for sellers to capitalize on suitable platforms available to re-ignite interests and develop businesses. The sell-out reinforces ATF as a great vehicle for networking and trade for the ASEAN tourism industry.”
Among the expected turn-out of more than 1,400 delegates, some 400 buyers from the Asia-Pacific (57 percent), Europe (33 percent), and the rest of the world will congregate in Brunei Darussalam, at the three-day TRAVEX event from January 26-28 at the new BRIDEX (Brunei International Defence Exhibition) Centre in Jerudong. Apart from TRAVEX, delegates will also get to explore the unexpected treasures of Brunei and Borneo through the pre-show city tours and post-show tours jointly organized by Brunei Tourism, Sabah Tourism, and Sarawak Tourism. These include visits to historic sites and cultural landmarks, spa treats, as well as exciting nature and scenic tours across Brunei and Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia.
Driven by the theme, “ASEAN – The Heart of Green,” another highlight of ATF 2010 is the ASEAN Tourism Conference (ATC) to be held on January 26. It will feature a keynote address, titled “Sustainable Tourism in Transboundary Conservation Areas,” by acclaimed authority on eco-tourism, Hitesh Mehta, on how the region can embrace sustainable development principles and encourage responsible travel behavior that will help conserve the environment and bio-diversity, as well as sustain the well-being of the local people.
Mehta’s vast experience in sustainable landscape and architectural design projects, eco-lodge and eco-resort design, as well as environmental and protected area planning across continents has earned him the reputation of being one of the world’s foremost leading authorities on eco-tourism.
Currently an adjunct professor at the Florida Atlantic University in the US, Mehta runs his own landscape architecture and planning firm, HM Design, with ongoing projects in Costa Rica, Indonesia, Panama, Dominica, and the West Indies. From 1997 to 2006, he held the position of vice president and head of the Ecotourism and Environmental Planning Market Sector at EDSA (Florida), the world’s largest landscape architecture and planning firm, during which he played an instrumental role in many key projects, such as the Eco-tourism Product Implementation Programme in Kenya and the Vision Plan for Wailoaloa Ecolodge in Nadi, Fiji.
In addition, a panel discussion will be chaired by leading industry professionals, who include Tony Charters, principal of Tony Charters and Associates, and Anthony Wong, group managing director of Asian Overland Services Tours & Travel Sdn. Bhd. They will share their experiences on developing eco-tourism projects in transboundary conservation areas.
With an increasingly sophisticated market of travelers, the aptly-themed event is well poised to meet the demand for green facilities and fuel greater awareness of socially responsible tourism.
For full details of ATF 2010 and regular updates, visit www.atfbrunei.com .