Mekong Tourism participates in Travel Blogger Conference

Proudly contributed by Jens Thraenhart

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More than 600 bloggers and online writers worldwide attended the Travel Blog Exchange Asia (TBEX Asia), held from 15 – 17 October, 2015, at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre (QSNCC) in Bangkok. The TBEX event is the world’s largest gathering of travel bloggers, writers, new-media content creators and social media-savvy travel professionals.  Of more than 600 bloggers and online writers that attended TBEX Asia 2015 in Bangkok, approximately 50 per cent were from the Americas, 30 per cent from Europe, and 20 per cent from Asia and Australia.

The next TBEX Asia in 2016 will be in Manila, Philippines.

Thailand Minister of Tourism and Sports, H. E. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, opened the conference in a heartfelt speech by asking bloggers to tell their stories about Thailand. “Tourism is about friendship and learning about new cultures
TBEX Asia 2015 was being jointly supported by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), theThailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA).
Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of TAT said, “TBEX Asia 2015 will provide a unique opportunity for us to strengthen the longstanding position of Thailand as the leading tourist destination in Asia. Coupled with our successful 2015 Discover Thainess campaign, the event will help us promote a positive image of Thailand and attract more visitors from across the globe.
Siripakorn Cheawsamoot, the TAT’s executive director for information technology, said bloggers had come from 20 countries and had a total of 12 million followers. The TAT has organised 60 tour routes for bloggers to experience tourism products in Bangkok.

It will also host familiarisation trips covering Phuket, Krabi, Chumphon, Trang-Satun, Trat, Samut Sakhon-Samut Songkhram-Phetchaburi, Buri Ram-Surin, Lampang-Phrae-Nan, Chiang Mai-Lampang-Lamphun and and Koh Samui.

The TAT will introduce 77 videos to promote all 77 provinces. In the first phase, emphasis will be on the 12 Hidden Gems destinations, with the winning clip from a contest to be broadcast next month on free TV channels and social networks.
In the second phase, 35 TAT offices will work with provincial administrative organisations to hold another video contest.

The Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) also actively participated and supported TBEX by being engaged in the speed networking event during TBEX and its Executive Director Jens Thraenhart being a speaker on the topic of “How brands can work with bloggers”. The presentation can be viewed below and on slideshare.
Jens Thraenhart, Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) said: “We have met some great niche travel bloggers that we would like to work with in the future to tell the story of the Mekong Region. Travel bloggers represent the consumer and deliver authentic story-telling to loyal audiences. Their ability to influence consumers by telling the truth about a destination and a hotel is an important tool in the media mix of any company.”
MTCO recently launched the new “Experience Mekong Tourism Marketing Strategy 2015-2020” in partnership with the member countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion (Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam) with support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The strategy focuses on using social media, mobile, and digital marketing to promote the GMS as a single tourism destination.  As such, MTCO has supported digital capacity building for the past few years by hosting Social Media boot camps and participating in Blogger Matchup events, organized by Digital Innovation Asia, as well as its DIA Awards, which has a category on Digital Storytelling.
The week prior to TBEX Asia in Bangkok, Mekong Tourism organized a workshop for 35 travel bloggers from all over the world as part of the Travel Bloggers Retreat on Koh Phangan, Thailand. The workshop focused on how MTCO and its member countries can engage with travel bloggers to create content, create awareness of the region, and change perceptions.
Mekong Tourism has also just launched its new Mekong Tourism Contributor Program for passionate experts and travelers interested and engaged in the Mekong Region, and has introduced the program to travel bloggers at TBEX, which was met with enthusiasm by the bloggers.

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