PHNOM PENH, 30 November 2020: Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism confirmed what trade show enthusiasts feared; the annual ASEAN Tourism Forum will skip a year. It will now take place in January 2022.
The annual trade show side-by-side with government meetings attracts around 1,500 travel and hospitality executives and government officials from the 10-Country ASEAN region. The Phnom Penh show, scheduled for 17 to 23 January 2021, was heading for its 40th edition without a break in long celebrated history.
Now the ASEAN leading travel trade event is postponed until January 2022. The ministry said dates would be confirmed by early 2021, but traditionally the event is always held during the first quarter of the year. The show moves annually between Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, following an alphabetical rotation.
Claiming the top priority was the health and safety of all the participants of ATF 2021 the ministry apologised for any inconvenience caused.
“While some countries have successfully contained the virus, resurgent cases have also been observed in other countries,” the announcement stated noting that Cambodia and countries worldwide are still imposing restrictions on large-scale events and travel.
Over its 40 years, the ATF Forum, inaugurated in Genting Highlands, Malaysia in 1981, always managed to convene, although a last-minute change of the country venue for economic or political considerations occurred on rare occasions.
Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism held on to the last possible moment to confirm the postponement even though it has been evident to most travel and hospitality executives for quite some time that trade shows will have to settle for a hybrid or virtual format during 2020 and possibly well into 2021 to survive.
News that at least three vaccines are now close to approval and could be commercially available by mid-2021 suggests in-person events could be once more be possible by late 2021.