Now in its 15th consecutive year, Thailand Travel Mart Plus Amazing Gateway to the Greater Mekong Sub-region (TTM+ 2016) has been organized under the theme “Smile With Us” and is consistently in line with the usual logo of “Amazing Thailand”.
For the first time not in Bangkok but in Chiang Mai instead, the three-day event of TTM+ was successfully being held at the state-of-the-art newest Chiang Mai International Exhibition and Convention Centre (CMECC) on June 8-10, 2016 and focused on the launch of the ASEAN integration that took effect this year.
There was a report of 345 sellers from Thailand and the other GMS countries of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam, with Yunnan (China) conspicuously absent. Some 305 buyers from 55 countries, 110 trade visitors, as well as over 100 international and local media were attending the event.
It was up to H.E. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Thailand’s Minister of Tourism and Sports, to open the program on June 8 with a lively presentation on Thailand’s Sports Tourism with its myriad of boxing rings, racing circuits and stadiums, offering international sports events throughout the whole year, such as cycling, golfing, and major marathons.
In the afternoon of June 8, Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, Former Secretary General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), delivered the keynote speech “ASEAN Brand – Stronger Together” by positioning ASEAN as a single tourism destination. As 2017 will mark the 50th anniversary of ASEAN, a special “ASEAN visiting ASEAN” campaign will be launched. But in the same time he warned that tourism is a goose laying golden eggs. So that is why we all should be careful about the problems of congestion and environment, which will also impact the cultural resources that we value. He called on the tourism industry to not just focus on doing business, but also get involved in the broader goals of creating a better world for future generations.
There followed a session on OTA – An Inconvenient Truth, moderated by Mr. Joseph Wang, Chief Commercial Officer, Travel Daily China, while in the evening a welcome reception under the theme “Thai Lanna” offered a classical music and cultural show accompanied by performances from Cambodia and Myanmar.
On June 9, there was an afternoon joint press conference called CLMVT Link – Prosper Together”, where the tourism strategies of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Viet Nam and Thailand were presented. For Cambodia, Mr. Try Chhiv, Deputy Director General, Ministry of Tourism, revealed that his country could easily become the gateway to ASEAN because of its strategic location. Attractions in Siem Reap Angkor, the coastal area, Phnom Penh & surroundings, and the Northeast for ecotourism have brought 4.78 million tourists in 2015. The number is mounting.
For Lao PDR, Miss Manisakhone Thammavongxay, Director of Public Relations Division, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, mentioned that there are now 10 border checkpoints in the landlocked country. Also, Lao PDR will offer a workshop on tourism investment promotion in the near future in Vientiane.
For Myanmar, Daw Khin Than Win, Deputy General, Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, revealed that 4.68 million tourists visited the country in 2015. Kyaiktiyo, Pyin U Lwin and Ngapali will promoted accordingly along the main sites of Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inlay Lake.
For Viet Nam, Mr. Vu Nam, Deputy Director General, Tourism Marketing Department, Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), confirmed that the country doing a lot for its tourism infrastructure with 18,600 hotels and lodgings alone In 2016, exploring the Mekong Delta and Phu Quoc Island will be promoted together with the East-West Economic Highway, and the northern provinces of Ha Tinh, Nghe An and Thanh Hoa.
Last not least for Thailand, Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), was proud to announce that the country has received nearly 30 million tourists in 2015 as active promoter of the ASEAN Community Hub. In the future, Thailand will focus on quality tourists and promotes the 12 Hidden Gems campaign.
In the evening, TAT hosted “Lanna Night” by the Upper Northern Provincial Cluster 1 at Chiang Mai Grandview Convention Centre, while the TTM Plus Thank You Party will be held on June 10 at the final end of the exhibition. In addition to the trade show at CMECC, some post-tours have been offered to buyers and media to see more fromThailand plus a five-day tour to Myanmar.
Written by : Reinhard Hohler