The Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) and the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, Myanmar have decided to push back the dates of the annual Mekong Tourism Forum, from August 25-26, 2020, to February 15-16, 2021.
Both parties made the decision in light of current travel restrictions and concerns that delegates would not be comfortable convening with more than 300 others in a closed venue amid the pandemic.
Bagan, a town awarded UNESCO World Heritage site last July, will remain as the host destination. The theme ‘Achieving Balanced Tourism’ will be retained, with emphasis given to rebuilding the region’s tourism industry.
Vietnam, originally the host of the 2021 Mekong Tourism Forum, will host the event in 2022.
Jens Thraenhart, executive director, MTCO, shared that the theme ‘Achieving Balanced Tourism’ was “more important than ever”, given that the region has the chance to “reset tourism and become more sustainable”.
He added that the industry can do so by leveraging innovative insights — such as Doughnut Economics. Meanwhile, the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) nations can draw up travel bubbles to speed up tourism recovery.
Nevertheless, Thraenhart acknowledged that there was still an element of uncertainty despite the postponement. “While nobody can predict if travel will actually be possible in February and people will be comfortable in being together at a conference with hundreds of delegates, we are now setting the new dates, and (hoping) for the best,” he said.
In the meantime, MTCO will work alongside the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, Myanmar and other public and private industry stakeholders, to ensure safety and hygiene measures are put in place at the event.
The office will also host a half-day Virtual Mekong Tourism Forum on the afternoon of August 25, focusing on tourism resilience and recovery in the GMS.