Cambodia Gears up to Host Mekong Tourism Forum

About 150 tourism leaders from across the Greater Mekong Region will gather in Sihanoukville for this year’s Mekong Tourism Forum, hosted by Cambodia
Regional delegates will be given the chance to explore the coast's prime spots. Kiripost/supplied
Regional delegates will be given the chance to explore the coast's prime spots. Kiripost/supplied

Cambodia’s ministry of Tourism is gearing up to host the annual Mekong Tourism Forum (MTF) in Sihanoukville, following the theme of “Rethinking for Resilience and Digitalisation”.

MTF 2023, co-organised by the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office, will take place from April 25 to 27. During the event, an estimated 150 tourism ministers, tourism leaders, NTOs, NGOs and private sector representatives will gather to discuss ways to rethink post-Covid tourism across China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

Topics to be discussed during the three-day event include job creation, gender equality, food safety and hygiene, digital transformation and a more geographically dispersed tourism approach to enable the benefits of the travel industry to spread beyond over-touristed hotspots.

On April 26, tourism experts and political leaders will address five key ideas: rethinking tourism to put people and the planet first; developing local food production networks with a focus on safety and hygiene, while reducing food waste; using new digital technology to boost tourism startups and SMEs; improving training so that tourism workers have the skills to adapt; and advancing the equality of opportunity and fair treatment for women in the private and public sectors of tourism.

“The post-Covid-19 tourism landscape now provides clear opportunities for us to take stock and rethink tourism for the better,” said Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism. “With my tourism colleagues from around the Greater Mekong Subregion we will work hard to ensure that tourism re-establishes itself as an engine to create sustainable prosperity for our citizens. The MTF 2023 agenda has a clear focus and will address those issues.”

Master chef and founder of famed Malis restaurant among others, Luu Meng, will address the challenges of improving local food networks to enhance safety and hygiene. The panel on smart tourism and digitalisation will be moderated by Ben-Jie Lim, Group Head of Delivery, SuperApp, AirAsia.

The panel debate on advancing human capital will be led by Peter Semone, Chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA). Veronica Mendizabal Jaffre, of the Asian Development Bank, will lead the panel session on women’s empowerment in regional tourism.

On April 27, delegates will be invited to explore the area, with a tour of Sihanoukville city, Koh Rong, diving, mangrove tours, kayaking and community-based ecotourism adventures on offer. Each excursion will showcase sustainable tourism practices.

MTF 2023 will also host a Sustainable Tourism Exhibit comprising more than 20 exhibitors, showcasing responsible and sustainable tourism, community-based tourism and local community products. The exhibit will run on April 25 and 26.