Mekong Tourism Forum 2011 ready to take off


BANGKOK (eTN) – There is only another 2 weeks left before the start of the 2011 edition of the Mekong Travel Forum (MTF), the meeting place for travel professionals with a keen interest on the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). The 2011 forum will take place in a relatively unknown destination.

Pakse in Southern Laos will receive delegates on May 27 and 28 for 2 days of discovery, presentations, and seminar-style meetings. The city is the second largest in Laos with over 125,000 inhabitants and still retains its old-world charm as the course of modernization still remains limited up to today. “It is great that a relatively unknown destination such as Pakse has a chance to expose itself to the world travel community. We continue to see the MTF as a leading yearly event not only to promote but also to experience the destination,” indicated Mason Florence, Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office in Bangkok.

The thematic will be “Destination Mekong: The Making of a Star.” The leading tourism event for the Mekong region will showcase emerging destinations and trends in the Greater Mekong Subregion. According to M. Florence, “Tourism leaders from the public and private sectors and regional development partners realize that the forum is the ideal place for travel industry people who are serious about exploring the region’s cross-border potential.” The event got the support from the Lao National Tourism Administration.

The program includes topics about ways for the GMS to better use social media and mobile apps and turn the Mekong Region into a global tourism icon. Sustainability will be high on the agenda, with conferences on ways to protect children and youth and provide them with decent working opportunities in the tourism field, as well as learning about the Mekong Discovery Trail, an initiative developed between the Cambodia Ministry of Tourism and a range of aid donors and NGOS to foster responsible tourism along the river. The forum will look at new tourist routes helping to showcase new product highlights that make the Mekong area so different from other destinations.

Other debates will look at ways to use best technologies to deliver real-time data in strategic decision-making and also how to foster the art of genuine service, especially in high-tourist places where services tend to turn machine-like and money-minded. “The Mekong Tourism Forum provides great inspiration to companies seeking to innovate and grow across the Greater Mekong Region,” described Willem Niemeijer, CEO and co-founder of Khiri Group, “Last year the forum proved to be a great source of synergy between grass-roots operators, multi-national hotel chains, destination management companies, NGOs, government bodies, and the media. I have the same high expectations of this year’s forum in the emerging destination of Pakse.”

The forum wants to be not only informative but also fun. Star Chef Bobby Chinn will teach participants how to enjoy Mekong flavors and dishes followed by a Lao Food Festival organized by Lao National Tourism Administration. A Mekong Mini-Marathon, as well as post tours to Pakse’s surroundings, are also organized. “We expect some 250 delegates and some 80 booths for the travel fair. We are still open to registration and extended the early-bird price of US$200 for the two-day forum up to May 15,” said Mason Florence.

The next forum will be hosted in Chiang Rai in 2012. Combined with the Thailand Travel Mart 2012 in Bangkok, organized by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, it would then help to bring further exposure to this show, the first of its kind to put awareness on a still relatively unknown corner of Southeast Asia.