Mekong Tourism Forum 2024 Sets Stage for 2025 Tourism Event in Luang Prabang

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Mekong Tourism Forum 2024 Sets Stage for 2025 Tourism Event in Luang Prabang
Povital figures from China and other Mekong countries gather to take photos (photo: Mekong Tourism)

The Mekong Tourism Forum (MTF) 2024 kicked off on 25 April in Lijiang, China, under the theme “Visionary Journeys: Redefining Tomorrow’s Travel.” This prominent gathering involved pivotal figures from the travel sector across the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), which included Laos, Cambodia, China, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, focusing on transformative discussions to reshape the region’s travel landscape.

The event saw over 400 attendees, including tourism ministers, industry leaders, non-governmental organizations, the media, and private sector representatives. Discussions at the forum concentrated on innovation, collaboration, and progressive strategies aimed at developing tourism that is economically advantageous, environmentally sustainable, and culturally enriching.

Participants at the event. Photo supplied.

The keynote address by Vice Minister of Culture and Tourism, Zhang Zheng, highlighted the evolution towards sustainable and aware tourism in the GMS and advocated for enhanced cooperation to develop a regional tourism brand and improve the resilience of tourism in the area. His speech emphasized China’s readiness to enhance collaborative efforts with GMS countries to lift tourism cooperation to new levels.

From Laos, Khom Douangchantha, Director General of the Tourism Marketing Department, and Kettasone Sundara, Director of the Tourism Marketing Activities Division, were present, highlighting Laos’ active role in influencing the future of GMS tourism. Notably, Khom received the Mekong Tourism Forum flag from the Chinese hosts, marking the transition of the forum’s venue to Luang Prabang, Laos, for the upcoming MTF in May 2025. 

Aditta Kittikhoun, Senior Partner at RDK Group, sharing his insight at the forum

Additionally, representing Laos at the panel titled “Crossing Bridges, Building Connections for Cultural Integration and Prosperity” was Aditta Kittikhoun, Senior Partner at RDK Group, a Laos-based media and marketing firm. Aditta shared his expertise on the shifting digital media landscape and its influence on tourism marketing in the GMS countries, highlighting the critical role of digital communication in promoting cultural integration and economic prosperity within the region.

Delegates also gained valuable insights about culture and tourism investment in Lijiang from Kimi Xiaozhou Liu, CEO of TripAdvisor China and Vice President of Trip.com Group. Liu delivered a keynote speech titled “Visionary Journeys: Redefining Tomorrow’s Travel”, which provided a comprehensive view of future travel trends and strategies essential for the sustainable development of the tourism industry in the GMS.

Suvimol Thanasarakij, Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office at the forum

Suvimol Thanasarakij, Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, stressed the importance of sharing best practices and innovative strategies among GMS countries to foster a unified and prosperous tourism future. The gathering in Lijiang offers an unparalleled opportunity for stakeholders to collaborate on innovative tourism models that prioritize inclusivity and community involvement.

The forum also featured a session on “Unleashing Potential: Enhancing International Cooperation to Propel Tourism Growth”, focusing on sustainable travel as a tool to address major development challenges in the Mekong region, including leveraging digital innovations for sustainable transformation.

The MTF 2024 has provided delegates with an immersive experience in Lijiang, including a field study in the UNESCO-listed Old Town, enhancing their understanding of how traditional culture can be integrated with modern tourism practices to create sustainable and vibrant travel destinations.