Mekong Tourism Forum to Discuss Greater Mekong Sub-region Cooperation

The Mekong Tourism Forum 2012 will take place in Chiang Rai on 13 and 14 June where it will address the theme, “20/20 Vision: Building on Two Decades of GMS Cooperation.”

The main aim of the forum 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 donors such as the Asian Development Bank and the GMS countries which is made up of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and the Yunan province of China.

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 Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, Executive Director, Mason Florence.

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.

“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,” Florence said stressing that a great deal has been achieved.

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 have progressed and what needs to be done.

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 the forum is US$375, with a special early bird rate of US$275 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.

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