The 21st Mekong Tourism Forum officially opened, Wednesday, in this northeast Thailand town that stands on the banks of the Mekong River.
Over 400 delegates including tourism officials from the provinces attended the opening session in a town that Thailand’s vice minister of tourism, Ithiphol Khunplome, said would emerge as an events destination in the future.
The Mekong Tourism Forum is the annual flagship event of the Greater Mekong Sub-region that brings together tourism officials and private sector representatives from Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
Stressing the Thai government’s policy to balance carrying capacity in popular destinations by diverting tourists to secondary destinations in Thailand, he stressed tourism would in the long run benefit Nakhon Phanom’s economy and spur travel to neighbouring Laos.
He cited the province’s assets claiming it could become a viable MICE destination in Northeast Thailand with links to Laos and Vietnam.
Commenting on the forum’s theme “Transforming Travel, Transforming Lives”, the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office’s executive director, Jens Thraenhart, said travel would be transformed through sharing experiences between visitors and the communities in a destination.
“The forum’s message is that we can transform the travel experience and become better people through engaging with communities and villages,” he said.
Commenting on the forum’s eight workshops that will convene, Thursday, in villages reflecting varied ethnic backgrounds, he said the sessions would illustrate how tourism was a two-way channel rather than a one-way experience to take photos and sightseeing without any cultural exchange.
“The workshop formula was introduced first in Luang Prabang at the 2017 MTF, through an interaction with villages… we invited them to be part of the discussion, we experienced the villages, enjoyed a traditional lunch… this way delegates learned from each community. It becomes a two-way learning experience that will transform travel and also change lives.”
On the blight of over-tourism Thraenhart said the MTCO mandate was to be a viable platform where the private and public sectors could share and find solutions.
“Thailand is very active supporting secondary destinations to combat over tourism at popular resorts,” he said, noting that the MTCO seeks to be a platform to educate and to help the industry to be more responsible.
The latest Mekong Trends Report will study the problems of over-tourism and how to achieve responsible tourism.
Read full article at TTRWeekly: http://www.ttrweekly.com/site/2018/06/mtf-highlights-blight-of-over-tourism/