Asean Tourism Forum (ATF) ends, logo passed to Malaysia

The 32nd Asean Tourism Forum (ATF) came to an end in Vientiane 23/01/2013 and the ATF logo was handed over to Malaysia, who will host the event in 2014. Deputy Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Chaleune Warinthrasak, reported on the outcome of the week-long regional forum, which took place from January 18-24. He highlighted the success of various meetings and the ATF Travel Exchange (TRAVEX).

Formal meetings included the Asean Senior Officials Meeting on Tourism, Asean Senior Officials Meeting+3 (China, Japan and Republic of Korea), Asean+India, Asean+Russia, Meeting of Asean Tourism Ministers, the 12th Meeting of Asean Tourism Ministers+3, and the 5th Asean+India Meeting.

“The formal meetings ran for four days and concluded successfully. The meetings agreed on and endorsed the Vientiane Action Programme, aiming to develop and promote Asean tourism towards a new international quality, ensure sustainability and preserve the environment and safety in keeping with the slogan “Asean Hand in Hand Conquering Our Future” and in particular realise the Asean Community by the end of 2015,” Mr Chaleune said.

Meanwhile, Asean and India signed a protocol to amend the Memorandum of Understanding on strengthening tourism cooperation, aiming to further strengthen tourism collaboration between Asean and Indian national tourism organisations.

The TRAVEX featured almost 500 booths and was attended by almost 1,000 sellers from the 10 Asean member countries, 455 buyers from around the world and 150 media personnel, including 92 from outside Laos.

“All of these business operators, sellers and buyers made deals to buy and sell itineraries and tourism products,” Mr Chaleune said, saying that journalists and the mass media promoted the events in newspapers, radio, television and the internet in an exciting and timely way.

Guests of the forum were treated to cultural shows depicting the traditions of the many ethnic groups in Laos. They also learnt about the various natural, cultural and historical tourism sites in Laos, particularly those in Vientiane. Some participants visited places of special interest in Luang Prabang and Champassak provinces.

This is the second time that Laos has hosted the ATF, after first hosting the forum 10 years ago. This 32nd ATF brought together over 1,800 delegates including tourism officials from Asean and its dialogue partners along with buyers, sellers and media from around the world.

In general, the tourism industry in Asean continues to grow despite the economic slowdown, the hike in oil prices and various natural disasters that have affected tourism in various parts of the world.

In 2010, the number of overseas visitors to the Asean bloc exceeded 73.7 million and rose to 81.2 million in 2011.

Enhanced air connectivity, particularly the strong growth of low-cost carriers within the Asean region, has been a contributing factor in maintaining intra-Asean travel as the major source market with a share of 46 percent of total international arrivals. This was followed by an influx of tourists from Asia with a share of 28 percent.

Yesterday’s closing ceremony was attended by high-ranking officials from Laos, Asean delegates, dialogue partners and business operators. The ATF logo was handed over to the Malaysian Tourism Minister, Dato’ Sri Dr Ng Yen Yen, before a video presentation about the 2014 forum.

Dr Ng delivered a speech at the closing ceremony, in which she invited delegates to visit Malaysia next year and explained what form the 2014 Asean Tourism Forum would take. A celebratory dinner was hosted by the Lao Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism and followed by cultural performances from Lao and Malaysian artistes.