Forum focuses on community travel

BANGKOK, 25 May 2018. Organisers of the Mekong Tourism Forum are counting down to the 26 to 29 June event that will be hosted in the northeast Thailand town of Nakhon Phanom.

With around 30 days to go, the MTF will again adopt a format and programme that makes the destination the venue.

A big portion of the programme will see delegates on the move visiting ethnic villages to participate in hands-on travel discussions with local communities with minimal time spent in the meeting room.

The destination is the venue concept was first introduced at the 2017 MTF in Luang Prabang due to the destination’s limited conference options. But based on its acceptance and positive feedback it is now being embraced as the distinctive feature that will ensures MTF stands out from the typical travel conference.

According to estimates by the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office that owns the annual event, attendance should reach 220 delegates, mostly travel and hospitality decision makers, experts and government officials who are involved in tourism development.

Delegates hail mainly from the six Mekong region countries; Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

The event is being sponsored by Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism & Sports and the Provincial Government of Nakhon Phanom.

It’s the first time that the MTF has been hosted in a Northeast Thailand town bordering the Mekong River.

Nakhon Phanom faces Laos and is the site one of the river’s friendship bridges built to promote overland transport and travel between the three countries; Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.

Adopting a theme “Transforming Travel – Transforming Lives” the event will spotlight eight topical tracks hosted in eight ethnic villages around Nakhon Phanom town, following on from keynote presentations at the town’s university venue.

MTF is also the platform for the MIST (Mekong Innovative Startup Tourism) Travel Startup Conference, in partnership with Destination Mekong and the Mekong Business Initiative, supported by ADB, MTCO, and the Australian Government.

The venture supports local travel and tourism startups.

In addition, the forum will feature the Mekong Mini Movie Festival, including the “Film & Destination Marketing Conference”, as well as Film Screening and Awards Ceremony.

As for the future, once the curtain falls on the 2018 event, MTF will head for Yunnan for the 2019 edition to be hosted next June by China National Tourism Administration (CNTA).

Like last year, MTF 2018 will ban single-use plastic bottles, plastic straws, and plastic bags. Water refill stations will be available at the main venue, official hotels, and the ethnic villages.

The 2018 Edition will be shaped by five key events: 

  1. Mekong Mini Movie Festival

On Wednesday afternoon, the 1st Film & Destination Marketing Conference will explore the power of visual storytelling to promote destinations – followed by the screening of some of the most inspiring videos from the Mekong Mini Movie Festival campaign.

  1. Mekong Innovative Startups in Tourism (MIST)

On Tuesday morning and Wednesday morning, the Travel Innovation Conference and the Travel Startups pitches respectively will reveal the most promising startups and trends from MIST to the travel and tourism industry.

  1. Mekong Tourism Forum – Transforming Travel (Part 1)

On Wednesday afternoon, discussions ranging from Buddhist Tourism to Responsible Tourism focus on the potential of transforming travel and people’s lives.

  1. Mekong Tourism Forum – Transforming Travel (Part 2)

On Thursday morning, mini keynotes from senior travel executives coming from different sectors, all focusing on transformative travel. The second Mekong Opportunities & Threats sessions will focus on key issues that are vital to focus on as an industry to develop the region in a responsible way, pitched by young travel professionals, native to the GMS.

  1. Mekong Tourism Forum – Transforming Travel (Part 3)

On Thursday afternoon, we will actually look at transforming travel and transforming lives by ourselves. As a first in travel and tourism conferences worldwide, eight thematic sessions from Adventure Tourism to Religious Tourism will be hosted in eight community-based villages around Nakhon Phanom.

Participants will experience a traditional village welcome ceremony and an authentic lunch followed by the thematic workshop and an interactive village experience to engage in weaving, fishing, and other activities.

In order to give back to the local communities, delegates are asked to pay THB 1,200 (around USD 30) to cover expenses for villages such as food, activities but also to provide a special  traditional shirt from their respective village.