Pac-Asia Editor, Mark Rogers, reports again from the 2008 ASEAN Tourism Forum in Bangkok.


Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia presented a variety of tourism initiatives at the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2008 (ATF 2008) which is winding down in Bangkok at the IMPACT International Exhibition & Convention Centre.

Vietnam will be the host country for the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2009. The Travel Exchange portion of the forum event will be held in Hanoi, January 10-12, at the Vietnam Exhibition Fair Centre. The complete official program of the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2009 will span January 5-12.

In the year to come, the U.S. will be a target market for Vietnam. Visitors from the U.S. numbered 412,301 in 2007, making it the third largest market for Vietnam. The country will also be marketing the Mekong Delta region through a new promotional campaign, ?Visit Can Tho Year 2008.? Can Tho City is a major destination in the Mekong Delta with a plethora of tourism appeal, including floating markets and access to small river villages.

Buyers and sellers will also have a chance to learn about the joint marketing efforts of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam at the International Travel Expo, to be held September 11-13, 2008, in Ho Chi Minh City. The three countries are promoting themselves as ?Three Countries, One Destination.?

While 2007 showed Laos posting an impressive 11-percent growth in its visitors arrivals, the country acknowledged hurdles ahead in growing its tourism, due to lack of hotel rooms and airline capacity. The city of Luang Prabang?a major tourist destination?is especially booming, posting a 32-percent jump over the period of January through October, 2007.

Cambodia has reached out to Angelina Jolie to become the country?s ambassador of tourism. Jolie filmed Lara Croft, Tomb Raider in Cambodia and subsequently adopted a Cambodian boy. If Jolie accepts, it would immediately raise Cambodia?s tourism profile in the U.S. Cambodia is also hoping to implement a new law in the second quarter of 2008 that will allow overseas investors to hold 100 percent of a company?s registered capital. It?s predicted that the new law could increase tourism investment by 30 percent and improve the quality of tourism facilities in the country. The U.S. is currently Cambodia?s third-largest market, accounting for 123,388 visitors in 2007, an 11.95 percent increase over the previous year. (MR)

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