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TTM+ 2017 at Chiang Mai as one of the best ever

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In its 16th year, Thailand Travel Mart plus Amazing Gateway to the Greater Mekong Sub-region (TTM+) 2017 was successfully held for the second time at the Chiang Mai International Exhibition and Convention Centre (CMECC) during 14-16 June. Under the theme “Delivering Unique Experiences” the annual event attracted 388 buyers and some 400 sellers from 56 countries to promote tourism in Thailand and the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS).

At the opening ceremony of TTM+ 2017, delegates and members of the press were addressed by Mr. Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), and H.E. Mrs. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports, while the keynote remarks were given by General Tanasak Patimapragorn, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand. It was said that TTM+2017 in Chiang Mai was one of the best ever and will move to Pattaya in the next year to come.

With Assistant Professor Dr. Jutamas Wisansing, Executive Director, Perfect Link Consulting Group, as moderator, there followed right away an afternoon Tourism Trend Talk Forum, where H.E. Mrs. Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, Minister of Tourism and Sports, gave an emotional talk on “Community Based Tourism” mentioning that this kind of tourism could enhance friendship, understanding and unity between people that is the core purpose of all of us in the tourism industry. Other speakers included Mr. Mason Florence, Chairman of the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Academy, on “Gastronomy Tourism” and Professor David Beirman, Senior Lecturer University of NSW, Australia, on “Tourism Crisis Management”, while last not least Ms. Sarah Mathews, Head of Destination Marketing Asia Pacific, TripAdvisor, gave a talk on the important “E-Commerce Platform” in the digital age.

On the second day of the event, there was a press briefing on “CLMVT: Moving towards shared prosperity” with representatives of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Viet Nam and Thailand. Moderated by Assistant Professor Dr. Jutamas Wisansing and wrapped up by Mr. Jens Thraenhart, Director of the Mekong Tourism Office in Bangkok, the panel discussion mentioned such topics as UNESCO world heritage site of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, self-drive overland experience in Lao PDR, local experience in Myanmar, luxury cruises in Viet Nam and food experience in the metropolis of Bangkok.

Also valuable to hear was the fact that tourism in the CLMVT countries almost doubled since 2010. Thus, international tourist arrivals in 2016 were in Thailand more than 32 million, in Vietnam 10 million, in Cambodia 5 million, in Lao PDR more than 4 million, and in Myanmar nearly 3 million. Also it was made clear that tourism creates wealth and in the same time will reduce poverty. A traditional market for the CLMVT countries in the past was Europe with nearly 9 million arrivals in 2016, but now China is becoming a rising star in tourist arrivals with nearly 13 million.

Simplified visa procedures, a dense network of some 80 airports, improved land connectivity and planned railroads as well as close to 40,000 hotels will let CLMVT countries surely prosper in the future, but this prosperity should be shared accordingly. Two upcoming travel marts were heavily promoted, namely first the Cambodia Travel Mart at Sokha Siam Reap Resort & Convention Centre on 17-19 November 2017 and second the annual ASEAN Tourism Forum at CMECC, Chiang Mai/Thailand on 22-26 January 2018.

Actually, buyers and media had the chance to book pre-tour and a range of post-tour itineraries to experience new developments in Thailand and the neighboring GMS countries and to discover the unique artistic heritage of Chiang Mai and beyond. Buyers mainly came from Australia, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, China, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Thailand, United Kingdom, and United States of America among others.

Furthermore, a walk along the many rows of booths in the exposition hall of CMECC highlighted a myriad of new and old exciting tourism products including hotels & resorts, tour operators or travel agents, entertainment companies, transportation, associations, and national tourism organizations. The following tourism products are highly recommended (in alphabetical order):

ACCOR Hotels SO Sofitel in Bangkok and Hua Hin, Bangkok Airways, Best Western Hotels & Resorts, Brilliant Hotel in Da Nang, Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake in Yangon, Hua Hin Golf Tours, Krabi La Playa Resort, Luang Prabang View Hotel, Moevenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach Phuket, NagaWorld in Phnom Penh, Le Meridien Chiang Rai Resort, Palm Garden Resort in Hoi An, Phi Phi Natural Resort, Rembrandt Hotel Bangkok, Royal Cliff Hotel in Pattaya, Serenata Hotels & Resorts, Thai Air Asia, Villa Santi Hotel Luang Prabang, and Yunnan Provincial Tourism Committee.

Besides an impressive welcome reception TTM+ 2017 on 14 June and “Lan Na Night” on 15 June hosted by Chiang Mai Province Administration, the last day of the event finally ended with a “Thank you Party” by TAT that confirmed the place of TTM+ 2018 in Pattaya.

Written by : Reinhard Hohler