BANGOK, 1 February 2016: Chiang Rai will host the Pacific Asia Travel Association’s Adventure Travel and Responsible Tourism Conference and Mart 2016, 17 to 19 February, the first Asia-Pacific travel conference to held in this far-north tourist destination.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand is underwriting the landmark event to illustrate the readiness of secondary destinations to welcome international tourism.
Previously held in Nepal and Bhutan, this year’s AT&RTCM will position Chiang Rai as an emerging destination for both soft-adventure and community-based tourism.
Tourism experts, many of them architects of successful adventure and community-based tourism projects in Asia, will complete a line-up of 20 speakers from 10 nations.
The conference and mart will be held at Dusit Island Resort on the banks of Mae Kok River that flows through the heart of Chiang Rai town.
Representing more than 1,000 companies and organisations in 90 countries, US-based Adventure Travel Trade Association president, Shannon Stowell, will deliver the keynote address at the opening session.
Commenting on the event, deputy governor for international marketing Europe, Africa, Middle East and Americas, Juthaporn Rerngronasa said: “This landmark event will help to propel Thailand to the forefront of environmental protection and sustainability within the tourism industry in the region.”
She noted that the former capital of the Lanna Kingdom was in its “own right a wonderful destination at the heart of the Golden Triangle region” where the Thai border meets with those of Myanmar and Lao PDR.
Apart from its soft adventure options, Chiang Rai is also a hub for the country’s renowned Royal Projects that focus on improving the quality of life for Thailand’s ethnic minorities and hill tribe villagers.
These programmes, many of them focusing on reforestation, are benefitting local communities through the development of cool-climate crops and fruits, organic farming and market garden produce.
“The choice of the destination reflects the growing importance of dispersing tourists to emerging destinations,” PATA CEO Mario Hardy told a pre-event media briefing Tuesday. “The challenge is to balance tourism growth with sustainable development. This is one of many crucial issues that we will be discussing at the mart.”
“Adventure travel is one of the fastest growing tourism sectors, with Asian travellers looking to expand their horizons by choosing an adventure travel holiday.”
To tap that revenue potential the B2B mart component, Friday 19 February, will bring together 27 individual organisations from 10 countries: Brunei, Cambodia; India; Malaysia; Mongolia; Myanmar; Nepal; Republic of Palau; Sri Lanka and Thailand.
They will conduct appointment sessions with international travel buyers from 20 countries including Australia, Canada, Finland, the Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United States.
According to Ministry of Tourism and Sports data, for January to November 2015, Chiang Rai welcomed 898,836 visitors.
Since 2014, Chiang Rai has seen a massive growth in airline seat capacity with five airlines offering more than 20 flights daily from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports.