Mekong Tourism Forum to Take Place 27-28 May 2011 in Southern Laos

Travel News Asia Latest Travel News Podcasts Videos Friday, 13 May 2011

[HD video below] Social media, mobile apps, real time data for the travel industry, multi-country thematic tours, responsible travel, and the importance of service in Mekong region destinations will all take centre stage during the Mekong Tourism Forum which will take place 27-28 May in Pakse, southern Laos.

Over 200 travel industry delegates are expected to attend the forum which has the theme, "Destination Mekong The Making of a Star". The objective of the annual event is to boost multi-destination travel between Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, north and northeast Thailand, Vietnam and the southern Chinese provinces of Yunnan and Guangxi.

Most of the territories linked by the Mekong River have experienced double-digit annual tourism growth over the last five years. Cultural, eco and soft-adventure tours and refurbished heritage hotels are now sprouting up across the region's rural areas where many people still live on less than US$2 a day.

At the forum, leaders from the government sector meet with innovators, investors from the private sector, grass roots service providers as well as development agencies. There is also a mart for buyer-seller exchanges.

"We've found it to be a uniquely constructive mix," said Struan Robertson, General Manager of SpiceRoads Cycle Tours. "The full range of tourism industry stakeholders at the forum all come together to advance the cause of responsible tourism in the Mekong region."

The programme at this year's forum emphasizes the importance of new 'real time' technologies, mobile applications, blogging and social media. There is a New Media Boot Camp on 26 May the day before the forum starts.

The Forum's organizer, the Mekong Tourism Co-ordinating Office (MTCO) based in Bangkok, says that basic travel issues in the region have to be addressed as well as topical trending subjects such as social media and mobile technology.

For example, delegates who travel overland to Pakse from neighbouring countries will supply candid feedback of the experience. There will also be dedicated sessions on enhancing service standards and protecting children who may be exposed to the negative impacts of tourism in the region. There will also be a session on adapting hotel, restaurant and tour services to cope with diverse tourist expectations from markets as different as Japan, India, Europe and China.

"When private and government sectors meet at the forum, practical issues such as visas, security and marketing are addressed frankly" said Mason Florence, Executive Director of the MTCO.

During this year's event each of the Mekong countries and territories will have dedicated sessions on stage to promote emerging "star" attractions and activities that they want to draw attention to.

Celebrity chef Bobby Chinn, who is based in Hanoi, will talk about the importance of food in travel and will even cook samples for delegates to taste.

After the forum there will be complementary tours for all attendees, with options to visit Vat Phou World Heritage temple complex, Champasak town, Khone Phapheng, Phasuam and That Fan waterfalls, and take an elephant ride at Kiat Ngong.

The Mekong Tourism Forum 2011 is being hosted by the Lao National Tourism Administration. Delegate registration is US$200 until 15 May, then US$300 after that. Special rates apply for SKAL members.

The Forum's venue hotel, the Champasak Grand Hotel, is offering a special rate of US$39 per room (single or double), including breakfast and free internet connectivity for MTF attendees.

HD Video Interview with Mason Florence Executive Director of the MTCO

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