The Forum will take place between 16-18 June at the Dusit Thani Bangkok, under the theme: ‘Collaboration, Sharing, Stability and Sustainability.’ The event will be co-hosted by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Industry.
The alliance was announced at the recently concluded Thailand Travel Mart (TTM) in Chiang Mai and will function under the common banner and logo of, ‘CLMVT Link: Prosper Together.’ Participants will include entrepreneurs, investors, government officials and travel operators from the countries mentioned above. The Forum will also discuss connectivity and tourism within the ASEAN region.
This newly-formed alliance can be traced back to the CLMV that was established at the ITE trade show in Ho Chi Minh City 11-years ago, to facilitate aviation routes and tourism between Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.
According to Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor, TAT, at a joint press conference during the TTM, the CLMVT alliance has the potential to promote tourism products and the increase in air connectivity will boost regional tourism. He conceded that rail travel is also important however, due to the different track gauges within the CLMVT region, the railways could play a bigger role in the future. Manisakone Thammavongxay, Director, Public Relations Division and Tourism Marketing Department, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Lao PDR, emphasised that increasing transport links, especially that of aviation, would encourage tourism within the region, a point that Khin Than Win, Deputy General Director, Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, Myanmar, concurred with by saying that more low-cost airlines should be encouraged.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has already been in talks with local airlines such as THAI, Bangkok Airways, NokAir, Thai Smile and Thai AirAsia, to create more flight accessibility. As a direct result, new routes will now include Thai AirAsia’s daily Bangkok-Vientiane flight from the 1st July; Bangkok Airway’s Chiang Mai-Luang Prabang sector slated for an October 2016 launch and Nok Air’s thrice-weekly flights between Bangkok-Mandalay around the same period.
Apart from transport connectivity, the alliance will also focus on road shows, travel trade fairs and the development of tour packages, even as Try Chhiv, Deputy General Director, Ministry of Tourism, Cambodia, stated that diverting the flow of tourists to secondary destinations (from packed attractions) was a priority. He said that Cambodia would focus on promoting sustainable green tourism to the north-east regions. Vu Nam, Deputy General Director, Marketing, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, said that themed tour packages as well as familiarisation trips for media and tour operators, would be part of CLMVT’s strategy. Supasorn further clarified that funding would be on a five-way split, although in some instances, a main member country could take on a bigger share of a project’s cost.
Perhaps the most noteworthy point of discussion during the CLMVT Forum 2016 will be a single visa for all ASEAN nations, in the manner of the Schengen countries. Although Supasorn was hopeful that the single visa might happen within the next couple of years, Chhiv was more cautious as he said the different regulations needed to be resolved first, while Thammavongxay voiced the concern that a single visa could also cause loss of income from visa fees for a member state.
The CLMVT alliance is bound to unite tourism efforts within the member countries and thus bring about optimistic results as everybody works towards a common goal. Statistics for 2015 show that visitor arrivals to Cambodia grew by 6.1 per cent to 4.78 million; Laos, up 13 per cent to 4.7 million; Vietnam up 0.9 per cent to 7.9 million; Myanmar up 52 per cent to 4.68 million and Thailand up 20 per cent to 29.8 million.