This week Thailand is hosting the 37th ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF 2018) between 22nd-26th January at the Chiang Mai Exhibition and Convention Centre under the theme ‘ASEAN: Sustainable Connectivity, Boundless Prosperity’. ATF, the largest travel trade event of the ASEAN region, is rotated annually among the 10 ASEAN countries and is being attended by Irish Travel Trade News.
Thailand is hosting the event for the sixth time, but has relocated it for the first time to Chiang Mai as part of the policy to promote secondary destinations, create more jobs in the rural areas, ensure a better distribution of tourism earnings, and highlight Thailand’s linkages with the Greater Mekong Sub-region countries.
Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor, Tourism Authority of Thailand, said: “This year, we are proud to mark the first ATF after commemorating the 50th anniversary of ASEAN in 2017. We are delighted to have participated strongly in the ‘Visit ASEAN@50’ campaign with a series of carefully selected Thai products, tour packages and offers to bring memorable travel experiences.”
The ATF is the only annual opportunity for the public and private sectors of the ASEAN travel and tourism industry to get together and discuss issues and trends facing the ASEAN tourism industry.
The week-long event includes meetings of the ASEAN Tourism Ministers and national tourism organisations, private sector groupings representing ASEAN hotels, restaurants, travel agents, tour operators and airlines and bilateral meetings with dialogue partners, such as Russia, China, Japan, India and South Korea. This year, a ministerial meeting with China will also be held for the first time.
Alongside the travel trade show, known as Travex, the individual NTOs will also give detailed media briefings. Additional briefings are scheduled this year by King Power and the Mekong Tourism Co-ordinating Office.
This year, the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau will host an ASEAN MICE Conference and the Ministry of Tourism and Sports will also host an ASEAN Gastronomy Conference. PATA will host a Destination Marketing Forum 2018 and the UNWTO will launch an Open Thailand Tourism Story Book.
ATF 2018 at a Glance
Sellers are well represented with 323 booths for 275 organisations. Thailand has the highest number of participants with 146 booths from 117 organisations or companies inclusive of the Thai pavilion; Singapore has 41 booths with over 20 companies; Malaysia with 40 booths with 24 companies; and Indonesia has 31 booths representing 50 companies.
The number of buyers at ATF 2018 are 240 (hosted 205, non-hosted 35) with 25.8% coming from around the ASEAN region (43 hosted, 19 non-hosted); an equal 47.1% coming from the European Union (106 hosted, 7 non-hosted); 16.7% travelling in from the Americas (34 hosted, 6 non-hosted); with the remaining 10.4% hailing from other Asian countries (22 hosted, 3 non-hosted).
About Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is Thailand’s second largest city and the economic engine of Northern Thailand. It is also one of the Kingdom’s must-visit destinations, and has received several awards and accolades, including the third ‘Best City’ in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Top 15 Cities for 2017, and ranked 12th in TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards’ Top 25 Destinations in Asia.
Blessed with a wonderful climate, rich local cultural and natural heritage, and numerous Royal Projects, Chiang Mai is a testament to TAT’s latest marketing concept of ‘Open to the New Shades’ where first-time and repeat visitors can discover new perspectives in existing Thai attractions.
Chiang Mai continues to benefit from convenient air access. In 2017, it welcomed a total of 7,614 direct international flights and 567 indirect flights (via major destinations), with almost half coming from China (3,436 flights).
In December 2017, Qatar Airways launched a direct non-stop service from Doha to Chiang Mai, bringing significant new sources of traffic by allowing visitors from Europe, the Middle East and Africa to connect to the Northern Thai city via the airline’s hub in Qatar.
Chiang Mai has a total hotel room count of 37,785 in 843 accommodation units.
In October 2017, Chiang Mai was declared a UNESCO Creative City for Crafts and Folk Arts (www.creativechiangmai.com).