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Thailand on a high note at ASEAN Tourism Forum 2002

Thailand<.> is likely to remain one of the most popular tourism destinations in Southeast Asia for the foreseeable future, according to tour operators…

Thailand<.> is likely to remain one of the most popular tourism destinations in Southeast Asia for the foreseeable future, according to tour operators interviewed at the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF<.>) 2002 held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, between January 20-29 2002.

The operators said that Thailand`s popularity would be based on its status as a politically stable kingdom with good products at value for money prices. In addition, the operators value the considerable support they get from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT<.>) in their marketing efforts.

Over 1,300 travel and tourism senior dignitaries including tourism ministers, head of national tourism organisations, senior officials of tourism-related public and private agencies and executives of tourism- and hospitality-related businesses attended the ATF 2002.

The Thai delegation was headed by Minister to the Prime Minister`s Office and TAT Chairman H.E. Mr. Somsak Thepsutin, who attended the Meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers.

The dominant subject at the ministerial meeting was the impact of the September 11 attacks on regional tourism. The ministers discussed ways to solve emerging problems and approved the second phase of the promotion of the Visit ASEAN Campaign by focussing on intra- ASEAN travel.

A High Level Task Force has been set up to draft an ASEAN Tourism Agreement, which will be presented to ASEAN leaders for approval at the Eighth ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh in late 2002.

A number of successful projects were reported to the ministers including the launch of an ASEAN Tourism Training and Education Network (ATTEN) Directory and an ASEAN Journal on Hospitality and Tourism. The ministers also heard reports on a Seminar on Cruise Tourism in Singapore and Seminar on Ecotourism in Malaysia.

For the first time, the ASEAN Tourism Ministers later met with their Chinese, Japanese and Korean counterparts to discuss future tourism co-operation which is set to grow robustly in future.

In addition to the ministerial meetings, the week-long ATF featured meetings of the ASEAN NTOs, the private-sector ASEAN Tourism Association (ASEANTA) and the main event, a regional trade exhibition known as Travel Exchange or Travex.

The Thai contingent included 71 inbound tour operators, hotels and resorts, and products and attractions. They launched a series of new tourism products and packages and participated in several social functions during the event.

Under the powerful marketing theme of the Amazing Thailand 2002 Amazes the World and Be My Guest campaigns, Thailand will

feature new tourism niche products and services including fantastic shopping opportunities, excellent health and spa services and world-class golf and sports facilities,

broaden and enhance the diversity of Thailand by promoting seven new tourism destinations nationwide and

organise a year-long celebration of colourful and exciting festivals nationwide based on Thai history, heritage and culture.

TAT also hosted a `Thailand Night` party on January 25 which was very well attended by hundreds of buyers, travel media, and Thai sellers.

At a press conference on January 26, TAT Deputy Governor Mr. Patpong Abhijatapong briefed travel and tourism journalists about the Amazing Thailand 2002 campaign, Thailand`s tourism performance and future plans, and progress of tourism-related infrastructure projects in Thailand and within the Greater Mekong Subregion.

Two Thai cultural and environmental projects also won awards. They were the Project to Acquire Supporting Equipment for Marine Natural Resources Conservation and the Organisation of Mini Light and Sound Presentation which won the Merit Awards in the Best ASEAN Conservation Effort and Cultural Preservation Effort Categories, respectively.

The ASEAN Tourism Forum has been held annually since 1981 and rotates among the ASEAN member countries. The next event will be held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in 2003.

Visitor arrivals to Thailand totalled 10,061,950 in 2001, of which 2,241,562 were from the ASEAN countries, a market share of 22.28%.