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Towards tourism recovery

Azlan Othman

Cambodia is set to host the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) in Preah Sihanoukville, which will be held from January 16 to 22, 2022. It carries the theme ‘ASEAN – A Community of Peace and Shared Future’ toward tourism recovery and re-opening our region in a more resilient, sustainable and responsible future, according to its official website.

Cambodia Bay and Preah Sihanouk Province are well known as the rising star in the Southwest by the Most Beautiful Bays in the World organisation. Furthermore, it is one of the fastest developing tourism attractions and investment cities in the country. The organisers have shared that, as the smooth implementation of COVID-19 vaccination and new normal protocols are in place, Preah Sihanoukville will be a safe venue.

The ATF provides a platform to encourage collaboration between ASEAN member states and to holistically promote the region as one destination, with diverse culture, cuisine and communities.

The Forum is made up of the ASEAN Tourism Ministers Meetings, ASEAN National Tourism Organizations (NTOs) Meetings and other associated meetings.

Programmes for the ATF include Preparatory Meetings for the 21st ASEAN +3 Tourism Ministers meeting, Preparatory Meetings for the 9th ASEAN-India Tourism Ministers Meeting, Preparatory Meetings for the 1st ASEAN-Russian Federation Ministers Meeting, Forum on Reopening of ASEAN Tourism: Perspectives and Opportunities.

Brunei Darussalam along with other ASEAN member countries will also give a National Tourism Organisation (NTO) briefing. In addition, itineraries also include the 25th ASEAN Tourism Ministers Meeting, the 21st ASEAN +3 Tourism Ministers Meeting, the 9th ASEAN-India Tourism Ministers Meeting, the 1st ASEAN-Russian Federation Ministers Meeting and ASEAN Tourism Awards presentation.

The theme ‘ASEAN – A Community of Peace and Shared Future’ articulates Cambodia’s commitment as a key stakeholder in the region’s tourism eco-system.

ATF 2022 aims to connect key stakeholders in the travel industry, which includes tourism ministers and officials, and will be attended by over 100 sellers, 100 buyers, and 50 national and international media.

TRAVEX is a platform for the selling and buying of regional and individual tourism products of each ASEAN member state.

This is a specialised event, which aims to provide convenient business-matching opportunities for the suppliers of tourism products and services in ASEAN, and for international buyers to meet and foster business relationships. ATF TRAVEX provides a unique and specialised platform for buyers from around the world to source for ASEAN tourism products and services, establish new business connections while strengthening existing business relationships and learn about the latest trends in the leisure travel and tourism industry.

Cambodia media Khmer Times reported that the meeting confirmed that the preparation work for ATF 2022 has been about 90 per cent completed, with the preparation of venues for tourism exhibitions (booths), opening and closing ceremonies, and other related programmes having been identified and organised gradually in accordance with safety rules.

In addition, so far, there has been confirmation of the direct participation of all ASEAN Tourism Ministers and senior officials from the 10 ASEAN member states to attend the ASEAN Tourism Ministers’ Meeting and related meetings, including international delegations. There were 114 meetings for the TRAVEX, with 187 vendors, 107 buyers from 35 countries, including 100 international buyers and seven local buyers.

The ATF 2021, originally scheduled to take place in Cambodia from January 17-23, 2021 was postponed following resurgence in COVID-19 cases. The last ATF was hosted by Brunei Darussalam in 2020. The Tourism Development Department at the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism hosted the 39th ATF 2020, under the theme ‘ASEAN – Together Towards a Next Generation of Travel’.

The ATF was established in 1981 as a cooperative regional effort to promote ASEAN as a single tourist destination. This annual event involves all the tourism industry sectors of the 10 member states of ASEAN, and each year, the hosting of ATF is rotated among the member countries in alphabetical order.

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