BRUNEI — Heads of NTOs from ASEAN member states (AMS) have arrived in Brunei for strategic meetings to discuss the region’s development as part of the 51st ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) 2020, even as some 1,0000 tourism and trade participants mingle over the three-day Travel Exchange (TRAVEX), also picking up fresh announcements from Cambodia – host country of ATF 2021.
Head of NTO Cambodia and vice chair of the 51st Meeting of the ASEAN National Tourism Organisation, Thong Rathasak, shared in his welcoming remark the hope that this meeting would serve as an option of options, opinions and ideas for tourism in AMS; to improve regional tourism services; while also discussing how to enhance the implementation of the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan (ATSP) 2016-2025.
These long range goals would require further discussions and implementations over the next five years, starting with Cambodia – the next host city of the ATF, who is optimistic that its fantastic tourism momentum in 2019 will be sustained heading into 2021.
With the country receiving 5.3 million international tourists in the first 10 months last year – a 9.7% year-on-year jump – and the ministry expecting to hit 7.5 million this year, “Cambodia is ready to host ATF 2021 in Phnom Penh, known as the Pearl of Asia; one of the best in tourism attractions and investments in the region,” shared His Excellency Dr Thong Khon, minister of tourism, Kingdom of Cambodia.
Encouraged by the uptick in tourist arrivals and anticipating tourist footprint to hit 15 million by 2030, the Kingdom has been building its infrastructure religiously, including a major push in air connectivity.
Already, new airports are being built in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, with both projects expected for completion by 2025. At the press event in Brunei, the Ministry of Tourism Cambodia also revealed AirAsia’s plans of anchoring a base in Cambodia – this, on top of the airline’s launch of four weekly flights from Bangkok to Sihanoukville, Cambodia which began in July last year.
For ATF 2021, the theme is “ASEAN – A community of peace and shared future”. Apart from staying relevant for various stakeholders, event organiser MP International shared that, “what we are doing differently [next year] is primarily attracting right, quality buyers. Buying demographics and methods have changed over the years and that changes the concept of traditional buyers,” explained executive director, Jason Ng.
“Together with the ministry of Cambodia, we intend to look at [both] traditional buyers and how we can define the new generation of buyers who are more tech and social media savvy – that opens up a whole new floor of experiences.”
Read our destination report on Cambodia in our latest Jan-Feb 2020 issue here.