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Thailand Soars with ATF 2018

Thailand pulled out all stops to host an amazing 2018 ASEAN Tourism Forum in Chiang Mai 22-26 January under the theme ‘ASEAN – Sustainable Connectivity, Boundless Prosperity.’

The ATF event is rotated amongst the 10 member nations of ASEAN and Chiang Mai was chosen by Thailand in order to promote a second order destination.

Chiang Mai more than met the challenge and ran a highly professional event involving 240 buyers, 323 sellers booths, and 100 media from across the globe. Tourforce was represented by Editor, Tony Charters, who has attended nine previous ATF’s.

“The Chiang Mai Exhibition and Convention Centre is an extraordinary venue – the range and quality of the meeting spaces is outstanding, and the organisation and logistics could not be faulted”

The event opening ceremony was in the amazing Royal Park Rajapruek, the site of the 2006 Royal Flora Expo. Ten of Chiang Mai’s leading chefs prepared gourmet foods for the assembled guests and hosts.

“Without question, Thailand has raised the bar for this event, and when matched with the balmy evening weather of Chiang Mai is ensured that this would be an unforgettable experience,” Mr Charters said.

ATF utilised a wide range of city hotels, local attractions and the Exhibition and Convention Centre. The timeliness and logistics of the event could not be faulted.

ATF attracted buyers form the ASEAN Region (25.8%), European Union (47.1%), Americas (16.7%) and Other Asia/Australasia (10.4%).

Thailand also hosted a number of pre and post ATF tours – nature tours, cultural tours, community tourism and religious tours.

Image: Official opening of ATF 2018 hosted by Thailand

Underwater Restaurant

Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta has designed Europe’s first underwater restaurant to be built along Norway’s coastline. Dubbed Under, the restaurant will be half-submerged in the sea along the rugged, craggy shoreline of Lindesnes, near the village of Båly, on the southern tip of Norway. The structure which will rest on the seabed five metres below the surface is built to withstand Norway’s stormy sea conditions while giving diners a view of the seabed as it changes throughout the seasons.

Further information:


ATF 2018 Report


Mr. Tanes Petsuwan, TAT Deputy Governor for Marketing Communications, spoke of the importance Chiang Mai in the Thai tourism industry. As the second biggest city and a designated UNESCO creative city for arts and crafts, Chiang Mai is enjoying significant growth and the opening of new first flights, including a direct flight from Doha/Qatar. Some 35 million tourists visited Thailand in 2017 contributing US$53billion to the Thai economy.  Millennials are being targeted and the development of the Go Local campaign for 55 second tier destinations was developed.

Thailand launched a new campaign ‘Open to the New Shades’ seeking to encourage travellers to experience and explore the diversity and richness of the country ‘and more’  – including the neighbouring ASEAN nations. Thai culture, experiences and way of life will be at the forefront.

The Chinese and Indian markets are seen as the biggest growth markets of the future.

Dept. Gov. Petsuwan spoke of the need for Thailand to seek out sustainability and high quality experiences rather than just chasing numbers.This approach also fits well with the desire to presenting Thainess.

This year Bangkok will host the 4th UNWTO World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism 30 May to 1 June 2018.

Image: Chiang Mai focus on gastronomic tourism


Vietnam has had tremendous growth with 28.1% year on year growth in international arrivals in the first 10 months of 2017 – some 10.5 million (of which 8.9 million are international visitors. Growth out of China has been rapid and is the major source market with 3.2 million visitors in the first 10 months of 2017.

Vu Nam, Deputy Director of Vietnam National Administration of Tourism said a focus for 2018 will be to increase Vietnam’s presence at major trade shows.

Vietnam will host the 14th International Travel Expo in Ho Chi Min City 6-8 September and expects 300+ exhibitors from 40 countries and territories and 300+ hosted buyers.

Image: Vietnam exhibit at ATF 2018


Singapore recently launched a new brand Passion Made Possible to broaden the visitor appeal of the nation by focussing on authentic satires about Singapore, its people places and nature.

Singapore’s top markets are China, Indonesia, and India.

While Singapore achieved a 10% year on year growth in tourism receipts (S$12.7b) with 38.3% growth from China, it suffered declines from some other key markets including Europe, West Asia, Japan (-14.3%), South Korea (-18.8%), Thailand (-17%).

The new Passion Made Possible thrust aims to continue strong growth and a return to positive growth from markets that have taken a downturn.

Image: Singapore exhibit at ATF 2018


Tourist arrivals exceeded 6.2m in 2017 and generated Php313.6b to end 2016 and generated 5.25m jobs. South Korea (1.6m) remains the top market by a long margin to China (.97m), USA (.96m), Japan (.58m), and Australia (.26m). This performance amounted to a 11.5% growth year on year. With the highly successful  It’s More Fun in the Philippines branding going through its next evolution, the Philippines is focussing on its emerging destinations such as Siargao and Siquijor and a campaign to Bring Home a Friend to the Philippines. The Department  is planning a mega famil for April 2018 to introduce media and industry to the diversity of the country.

The Philippines has been greatly buoyed by the Conde Nast Traveller readers choose awards in 2017 which placed Boracay as the Best Island and Palawan as number one and Boracay as number three in Travel and Leisure’s best island’s in the world in 2017. The sustainability of tourism in the Philippines’ outstanding natural areas is a key concern and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is working with the Department of Tourism on key ecotourism sites.

Image: Philippines exhibit ATF 2018


Malaysia’s top ten markets are Singapore, Indonesia, China, Thailand, Brunei, India, South Korea, Japan, Philippines, and the U.K. However 2017 saw a decline in visitor numbers. The average length of stay (2016) in Malaysia is 5.9 nights, with a total of 26.7m visitors in 2016.

Malaysia has adopted the tagline Travel, Enjoy, and Respect in line with the National Ecotourism Plan 2016-2025 and underlines the importance being placed on community engagement in the tourism industry.

Malaysia has adopted the tagline Travel, Enjoy, and Respect in line with the National Ecotourism Plan 2016-2025 and underlines the importance being placed on community engagement in the tourism industry.

Tourism Minister H.E. Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, Tourism Minister of Malaysia,  launched the Visit Malaysia Year 2020  campaign at his hosted lunch in Chiang Mai ATF.

Malaysia hopes to see the enhancement of connectivity with south-east Asia through all modes – air, road, rail, sea – providing more convenient access and optimising the opportunities to lengthen average length of stays and repeat visitation.

Image: Malaysia at ATF 2018


Myanmar has changed the way it measures visitor arrivals and therefore year by year comparisons are difficult to compare.

It was reported that there was nearly 3 million visitor arrivals to Myanmar in 2017. The top markets are Thailand, China, and Japan.  Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam are the top investors.  The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism hopes to see this number grow to 7 million by 2020. By any measure this would be extraordinary growth and something that would need significant investment in hard and soft infrastructure. Sustainability will become a vitally important consideration under the growth scenarios envisaged by local authorities.

Mr. Hla Myint of the Myanmar Tourism Federation and Mr. Khin Zaw, Advisor for Union Minister, H.E. U Ohn Maung, Ministry of Hotels & Tourism listed the most important tourist destinations as Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, and Inlay Lake. Myanmar has some 60,000 hotel rooms. This number will need to rise substantially if the 7 million goal is to be achieved. The government is currently working on a Visa on Arrival scheme which it hopes to launch soon. There is also a plan for a bed-tax for tourists.

Image: Myanmar exhibit ATF 2018


Laos achieved 4.2m international visitors in 2016, a 10% decrease year on year on 2016 arrivals. However Luang Prabang experienced growth of nearly 6 % in 2016. Luang Prabang is the most popular tourism destination in Laos. The other key tourist destinations are Xieng Khuang, Vientiane, Vang Vieng, Khammuan Province, and Champasak Province.

Mr. Bounlap Douangphoumy, Deputy Director of Tourism Marketing Department, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism outlined that Simply Beautiful remains the branding for the country. Laos announced the Visit Laos Year 2018 at the Lao Night in Chiang Mai.

Laos hope to see visitation numbers return to growth. There have been issues related to the competing demands on land for roads, dams and other infrastructure and the need for better transportation and hotel accommodation.

There have been industry calls for streamlined visa on arrival services to encourage visitation to Laos.

Image: Laos exhibit ATF 2018


Indonesia is hosting the 18th Asian Games 2018 across two cities Jakarta and Palembang. 41 sports and disciplines will be featured.

Indonesia attracted some 17m visitors in 2017, a 24% growth rate year on year.  According to Mr. Nurdiansyah, Ministry of Tourism Indonesia, going digital has been a key factor in this growth and will play a vital role in the future marketing directions of the Ministry. Indonesia is in the top 20 fastest growing tourism destinations in the world.

Mr. Herman Rukmanadi, Chair of the West Java Tourism Promotion Board, introduced “Wonderful Indonesia” and Bandung in West Java.

West Java is home to 7 active volcanoes. Festivals and events will play an important role in future growth in addition to the natural and cultural heritage of the country.

Indonesia is continuing with its mission to expand its number of tourism destinations. Ten top destinations have been identified – Lake Toba, Tanjung Kelayang, Borobudur Temple, Wakatobi Island, Morotai Island, Tanjung Lesung, Thousand Island and Old Town, Mt Bromo-Tengger-Semeru, Mandalika,  and Labuan Bajo.

Image: Indonesia exhibit ATF 2018

Vietnam to Host 2019 ATF

Following the highly successful Chiang Mai ATF, Vietnam is to host the 2019 ATF at World Heritage Listed Halong Bay, 14-18 January.

Quang Ninh Exhibition of Planning and Expo Centre (QNEPEC), will be the venue for ATF 2019, in Quang Ninh province, some 180km from Hanoi.

Officials from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism confirmed that Halong Bay’s new international airport will open just ahead of the event. It will open just week before the ATF event.

TTG Events have been awarded the management responsibility for ATF 2019.


Electric Campervans

Auckland-based vehicle rental company Jucy is looking to launch a fleet of electric campervans within the next two years following a trial. The trial of the eco-friendly prototype will be the first time an electric campervan has been rented to tourists who plan to visit around 30 destinations over a three week period. The company is aiming to introduce 50 new electric vehicles to its fleet of 2,700 vehicles to meet the growing demand from millennial tourists. It also plans to introduce charging stations at their branches as well as Jucy Snooze hotels across Australian and New Zealand.

Further information:


Digital & Technology


Hopper is a mobile application that provides travellers with the information to get the best deals on flights and notifies them when prices for their flights are at their predicted lowest points. It uses big data to predict and analyse airfares.

Further information:



DeskBell Service is an app that provides a new local search feature for hotel guests. It is a search engine that collects data from 70 million pages on business in social networks, reviews and check-ins of connected users. It provides direct information about local events, concerts, live theatre, restaurant and museum exhibitions.

Further information:


Infrastructure & Investment

Global Tourism Hub

The Queensland Government is proposing to develop a Global Tourism Hub in Tropical North Queensland to enhance its tourism offerings by supporting major events and communities for both locals and visitors alike. Global Tourism Hubs are a strategy for Queensland that delivers world class tourism infrastructure and catalyst projects that support city building objectives while optimising the broader community gains.

Further information:

Image: Tourism Queensland

Product Development

Wine Cube

South Australia’s newly-opened d’Arenberg Cube in the McLaren Vale wine is the newest wine attraction in Australia and the realisation of a 14-year dream for leading Australian winemaker Chester Osborn. The five storey $5 million glass-encased steel and concrete structure was inspired by Rubik’s Cube.

Further information:


Responsible Tourism

The Intrepid Foundation

Established by the founders of the Intrepid Group in 2002, The Intrepid Foundation provides travellers with a way to give back to the communities they visit. The not-for-profit organisation has raised over $5.6 million and supports more than 100 community based projects and initiatives in areas of healthcare, education, gender equality, human rights, child welfare, sustainable development, environmental conservation and wildlife protection.

Further information:



Gold Coast Airport Hotel

A $50 million Rydges hotel with a rooftop bar and viewing deck will be opened at Gold Coast Airport in 2019. The four star hotel will include 192 rooms and suites over seven storeys, as well as a restaurant, resort-style swimming pool and meeting facilities. It will be located close to the airport’s major terminal expansion project and branded under Rydges Hotels and Resorts.

Further information:


Remarkable Lodge

The Tasmanian Government has committed $1 million to improve visitor access to the Tasman Peninsula in support of a new $20 million luxury wilderness retreat by Baillie Lodges. The Remarkable Lodge which adjoins the Tasman National Park will be the fourth property in the Baillie Lodges collection. Work has begun to fine tune the lodge’s design and guest experience concepts with construction expected to be completed in 2020.

Further information:


Protected Areas

Noosa World Surfing Reserve

A four-kilometre stretch of surf breaks at Noosa on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast has officially been declared the 10th World Surfing Reserve. The honour was awarded by the international non-governmental organisation Save the Waves Coalition which recognises the region’s environmental and cultural significance. The accolade provides protection for beaches and surf breaks between Sunshine Beach and the Noosa River. An official dedication ceremony will take place in March 2018.

Further information:



Solo Travel Handbook

Lonely Planet has released new research on the growing number of solo travellers who face higher costs than those travelling with family or friends including an average of nearly 20% on travel insurance and over 50% on accommodation. To assist, Lonely Planet has also compiled the Solo Travel Handbook which includes top tips and advice from experts ranging from the practical to the inspirational.

Further information:

Full Service Airlines Report

The latest GlobalData report provides information on the key trends and issues facing the global full service airline market. It offers key insights at regional level and major country level markets analysing the number of seats available and seats sold, load factor, average revenue per passenger, total revenues, revenue generating passenger kilometres and passenger kilometres available. Full service carriers are facing significant competition from low cost carrier including collaborative alliances and code-sharing arrangements.

Further information:–global-full-service-airlines-market-to-2021-market-data-and-insights-on-global-full-service-airlines-industry/

Luxury Traveller Report

Global luxury travel network Virtuoso has released its annual report which reveals consumer preferences in high-end and experiential travel. The 2018 Luxe Report reveals exploring new destinations with unspoiled natural beauty is the top trip motivator followed by meeting locals, wandering neighbourhoods and making spontaneous discoveries are the best ways to experience a destination. The report is a comprehensive survey of travel advisors from Virtuoso-affiliated travel agencies in North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

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Adventure Travellers Report

Researchers from East Carolina University, in collaboration with Outside magazine and the Adventure Travel Trade Association, have released research identifying shifts in traveller preferences, priorities, and mindset. The North American Adventure Travellers: Seeking Personal Growth, New Destinations and Immersive Culture survey replicated elements of a similar study conducted 10 years ago. Results from the report provide a perspective on adventure traveller motivations, personality traits, leading activities and destinations of interest.

Further information:

Local Government Area Profiles

Tourism Research Australia has published updated tourism profiles for over 200 local Government areas. Data is drawn from the International Visitor Survey and National Visitor Survey along with demographic and business data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The tourism profiles were first developed in 2007 to assist industry and Government decision making and to identify and support investment opportunities, particularly in regional Australia.

Further information:

Responsible Tourism

Booking Cares Fund

Champions and leaders with bold, ambitious ideas to transform the sustainable tourism industry can apply for grants through the Booking Cares Fund. The grants are aimed at supporting projects that strengthen local communities, preserve and promote local culture, help disperse tourism and protect natural resources. Changemakers from all over the world representing universities, non-profits, research institutes and governments are invited to apply.

Further information:

Policy & Planning

Tourism Sustainability Reporting

The World Travel & Tourism Council has urged the travel and tourism sector to prioritise measuring, monitoring and reporting its impacts upon the environment and society. It has produced a report on sustainability reporting to help companies understand the key concepts, as well as provide an outlook on the regulations and trends that are driving this practice forward within countries and various other stakeholders in this sector.

Further information:

Social Tourism Policies

The International Social Tourism Organisation has released a report featuring examples of social policies and schemes which have shown proven benefits for people as well as the local economies in 17 countries around the world. The publication Tourism in Actions – 20 Examples of Social Policies and Programs around the World presents cases and schemes which have helped train stakeholders or improve the quality of services.

Further information:


Funding & Grants

International Wine Tourism Grants

Wine Australia is inviting stakeholders to apply for the International Wine Tourism Competitive Grants program as part of the Australian Government’s $50 million Export and Regional Wine Support Package. The grants provide an opportunity to apply for funding for initiatives that will grow the number and/or expenditure of international wine tourists. Eligible activities include wine tourism marketing and events, infrastructure and innovative products or services targeted at attracting international tourists. Applications close Friday 2 March 2018.

Further information:


Tourism 4 Tomorrow

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has announced the 15 finalists of the 2018 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards. The finalists come from five continents across the categories of community, destination, environment, innovation and people. The awards showcase business practices of the highest standards that balance the needs of ‘people, planet and profits’ within the tourism sector. Winners will be announced during the Awards Ceremony at the 18th WTTC Global Summit, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 18-19 April 2018.

Further information:


Conferences & Events

World Luxury Destinations Conference

The World Luxury Destinations Conference will be held in Bangkok, Thailand from 1-3 March 2018. The conference aims to bring industry professionals and researchers together to exchange ideas, share findings, promote innovations and extend the knowledge boundary on luxury tourism.

Further information:

Gulf Savannah Tourism Summit

The Gulf Savannah Tourism Summit will be held at Undara Experience in Queensland from 8-9 March 2018. The mini-conference aims to build on tourism in the Gulf Savannah region including visitor experiences, marketing and network strengths.

Further information:


World Travel and Tourism Global Summit

The 18th World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina from 18-19 April 2018.

Further information:

International Conference on Sustainable Tourism

The 8th International Conference on Sustainable Tourism will be held in Vienna, Austria from 2-4 May 2018. The event aims to find ways to protect the natural and cultural landscape through the development of new solutions which minimise the adverse effects of tourism.

Further information: