The hosting of the Mekong Tourism Forum in Nakhon Phanom by Thailand from June 25 to 29 is an opportunity for the entire area to become a true hub for tourism development in the Greater Mekong Sub-region.
Nakhon Phanom is one of the oldest cities along the Mekong River in Thailand and has been for a long time an independent kingdom. Today, the charming city of 30,000 inhabitants is considered a major entry gateway to the upper northeast Mekong area. It is near to Thakhek city in Laos in Khammouane province and only a two hours drive to Vietnam. “This crossroad positioning makes Nakhon Phanom unique as it integrates eight different ethnics in its territory including a large group of Vietnamese and Laotians,” explained Thailand Minister of Tourism and Sports H.E. Weerasak Kowsurat at a press conference organised to the promotion of the coming MTF.
The MTF is due to welcome hundreds of delegates offering an insight into the latest development of tourism in the six GMS countries (Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam). The chosen theme “Transforming Travel-Transforming Lives” is to open both together participants’ and hosts’ minds alike by connecting and learning from each other.
“We are proud to set up Mekong Tourism Forums as unique events where sustainability, environment protection as well as the respect of local cultures are part of the delegate experience. Last year in Luang Prabang, we were probably the first to organise an inclusive conference which saw local companies, individuals being part of the conference by welcoming and hosting sessions with delegates. We will act similarly. By engaging this year with communities around eight different themes and by organising workshops in eight different villages, we want once more show that we all learn truly from each other,” pointed out Jens Thraenhart, Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office.
While adventure, festivals, heritage, gastronomy, wellness, community will be some of the themes being highlighted at the MTF, special features are also planned: tourism start-up of the region will meet up again and distinguish some of the most creative companies; the Mini Movie Mekong Festival will reward the best one-minute video shot about the region. “The success is tremendous as we registered 300 movies with over six million views in total”, added Thraenhart.
Another session will look at Buddhist tourism. “Nakhon Phanom is already leading in that field and we believe that this place with its rich heritage can be at the heart of tourism centred around Buddhism values, teaching and history”, told Thailand Minister of Tourism.
A very important session will also be dedicated to the ban on single-use plastic and waste in the region. “This is a crucial issue and we would like to come with some solution and engage partners to achieve results. We could then next year look again at what has been achieved”, told MTCO Executive Director.
For Nakhon Phanom, the forum is an excellent opportunity to stress the role of the city as a gateway for the region. “We actually use our history and heritage. For over many centuries now, Nakhon Phanom has been a place where people from all the region settled and prospered together. Let’s learn from that and make the city a true Mekong tourism town, especially as the town benefits from very good connectivity by air and by road and river to its neighbours”, added Weerasak Kowsurat.