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Sihanoukville ready for ASEAN Tourism Forum

Gareth Johnson

The 40th ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF 2022) is scheduled to take place from January 16th-22nd in the coastal city of Sihanoukville. The forum will be attended by senior ministers from within the block and will feature a Tourism Expo, Travel Exchange (TRAVEX), as well as more than 200 booths from both public and private sector bodies. 

The program for the forum includes several keynote events, such as the 25th ASEAN Tourism Ministers Meeting, the ASEAN + China, India, South Korea and Russia meeting, the ASEAN awards ceremony, and most importantly from a business perspective the International Travel Exchange (TRAVEX)

AFT 2022 TRAVEX

The 3-day TRAVEX event is aimed at being a marketplace for regional suppliers, with the organizers stating “ATF TRAVEX makes it easy and convenient for suppliers of ASEAN tourism products and services and international buyers to conduct business and meet quality participants through pre-scheduled business appointments that take place on-site”

During the 2019 forum in Vietnam, it was estimated that up to 10,000 one-to-one business appointments between suppliers of ASEAN tourism products and services and international buyers took place. 

Despite one of the themes of the event being the reopening of ASEAN in 2022, the forum is seen as holding particular potential for Cambodian sellers, with the country being the only nation within the ten-member block to have fully reopened to tourism.

Timor-Leste, who will also be participating in the event also recently reopened to tourism, but are is still in the application stage for ASEAN membership.

ASEAN Tourism Forum
Prince Times Hotel one of the official hotels for ATF 40

ASEAN Tourism Forum Cambodia

The event was originally planned to be held in the capital Phnom Penh, before being moved by the government to the tourist city of Sihanoukville over concerns related to Coronavirus last June. Sihanoukville is arguably the second most important tourist destination in Cambodian after Siem Reap.

The city boasts a number of Chinese-built hotels and casinos, entry for cruise ship passengers, a Special Economic Zone (SEZ), as well as being the gateway to the islands of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem. 

The title of the 2022 forum is “ASEAN – A community of peace and shared future” and according to event organizers “articulates Cambodia’s commitment as a key stakeholder in the region’s tourism eco-system”.

The event is expected to bring 2,000+ participants from more than 25 countries, tourism ministers and leaders, as well as national and international investors. 

The majority of AFT 2022 will be held at the Prestigious Sokha Hotel, with other events and delegates being hosted at a few selected partner hotels, such as Prince Times Hotel owned by Prince Holding Group.

Speaking to Cambodia Investment Review General-Manager of the Prince Times Hotel Simon Chong stated “We are very pleased to be an official partner of the 40th ASEAN Tourism Forum and see it not only as a great way to showcase Cambodia’s opening to tourism, but also the Prince Time Hotel, which has been created to provide a 5-star family and business friendly environment in Sihanoukville”. The hotel is one of the few top-end venues in the city not to feature a casino. 

ASEAN Tourism Forum
ASEAN Tourism Forum 2022

Background to the ASEAN Tourism Forum 

The ATF was first organized in Kuala Lumpur in 1981, with the 39th edition of the event being held in Brunei in 2020. It was canceled for the first time in 2021 due to COVID-19. 

According to their official website “The ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) is a cooperative regional effort to promote the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as one tourist destination.

This annual event involves all the tourism industry sectors of the 10 member states of ASEAN: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam.”

AFT 2022 is the first to be held in a post-Covid environment, with Cambodia seen as the ideal location due to not only its high rates of vaccinations but the fact that it has managed to successfully reopen its borders to international tourists. 

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