The countdown to the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) 2018 in Chiang Mai from 22 to 26 January is underway with Thailand rolling out the red carpet to welcome participants under the theme of ‘Sustainable Connectivity, Boundless Prosperity’. Thailand is hosting ATF for the sixth time, but has relocated it for the first time to Chiang Mai as part of the policy to promote secondary destinations. At this year’s ATF, TAT will be highlighting free local Thai experiences for pre-ATF tours with paid excursions after the event coving Thailand diversity as regional travel hub.
Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), said the TAT will have a dedicated area called ‘Thailand Prestige’ highlighting Thai local experiences through the country’s rich culinary tradition in line with its marketing focus on Thai gastronomy tourism.
“Thai food continues to gain worldwide acclaim and is a major attraction for the millions of tourists who visit Thailand every year.
“ATF 2018 will draw on Chiang Mai’s outstanding reputation for tasty Thai gastronomy tourism that is so engrained in Lanna culture both for international and domestic tourists visiting Thailand’s Northern Region.
“The ‘Premium Product Display’ will also showcase kitchen products and decorative items featuring a Thai design for international markets in the field of food innovation as well as award-winning itineraries that also promote Thai local experiences.”
Highlights include an interactive cooking demonstration by celebrity chefs from Chiang Mai. Top talent poised to tantalise the taste buds of those in attendance include Chef Toei from Chiang Mai’s ‘Nasi Jampru’ Thai-fusion restaurant, Chef Kaew Koe the ‘Sandwich Man’ and Chef Black from Chiang Mai’s ‘Blackitch Artisan Kitchen’.
Other ‘Premium Product Display’ items of interest include pottery and ceramic products from Prempracha’s Collection, celadon ceramics from Chiang Mai Celadon, handcrafted ceramics from PaChaNa Studio plus silver and lacquer ware from Wualai Silver. Northern local food products on offer include dried meat and sausages from Vanasnun, spices and seasoning from Nithi Foods, sweet corn foodstuffs from Sun Sweet and honey processed food items by Bee Product.
For first-hand experiences of Thai gastronomy tourism, the ‘Premium Product Display’ features some of the Thailand Tourism Awards’ Best Itineraries’ including a Hivesters’ Talat Noi Neighbourhood tour of Bangkok’s old community; Andaman Island Group’s The Phuket Explorer that features the charming Peranakan culture; and NG River Guide’ Fly Fishing Project Season 2, which highlights the way of life of the local pgazkoenyau tribe in Lamphun.
All 10-member countries are also invited to showcase their uniqueness at the ‘ASEAN Product Showcase’ section where Thailand will present a Thai language learning module in the form of a ‘multi-media box’.
The ASEAN countries are collectively Thailand’s largest visitor source markets in Asia. Thailand welcomed more than 8.19 million ASEAN visitors during January – November 2017. Malaysia is the largest market with total arrivals of 2.98 million arrivals (+6.28%), followed by Lao PDR. with 1.45 million (+16.12 %) and Singapore with 898,965 (+6.10%).
ATF 2018 at a Glance
ATF, the largest travel trade event of the ASEAN region, is rotated annually among the 10 ASEAN countries. ATF is the only annual opportunity for both 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 Coordinating 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.
This year, sellers are well represented with 323 booths for 275 organisations. Thailand has the highest number of participants with 146 booths from 117 organisations/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); 47.1% coming from the European Union (106 hosted, 7 non-hosted); 16.7% travelling in from the Americas (34 hosted, 6 non-hosted); and the remaining 10.4% hailing from other Asian countries (22 hosted, 3 non-hosted).
For details of the event, please see http://atfthailand2018.com/