Ministry of Tourism delegates are in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, for the ASEAN National Tourism Organisations (NTOs) meeting and the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) 2023, scheduled to run from February 2-5.

Thong Rathasak, head of the ministry’s General Department of Tourism Development and International Cooperation, led the delegation.

“The chairmen of the NTOs of all 10 ASEAN member states will discuss plans to continue work to build on the achievements made during Cambodia’s chairmanship of ASEAN in 2022, including several key initiatives,” he said.

These initiatives include the Phnom Penh Declaration on Transforming ASEAN Tourism, the decision to conduct an environmental study on the implementation of the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement of Tourism Professionals (MRA-TP) and the ASEAN framework for post-Covid-19 sustainable tourism development.

The meeting will review and approve several protocol documents of four ASEAN Commission meetings: the ASEAN Tourism Market Partnership Working Group; ASEAN Tourism Competitiveness Commission; ASEAN Tourism Supervision Committee; and the Sustainable and Environmental Tourism Development Commission.

Rathasak, also a senior official at the National Institute of Tourism, said several other groups discussions would coincide with the ASEAN NTO event.

“These included the ASEAN NTOs+ 3 – China, Japan and South Korea – and the ASEAN NTOs Plus India,” he said.

“Also scheduled are consultative meetings with the ASEAN-China Centre (ACC), ASEAN-Japan Centre (AJC), ASEAN-Korea Centre (AKC), as well as international organisations/associations and development partners such as the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), ASEAN Tourism Association (ASEANTA) and ASEAN Tourism Research Association (ATRA),” he continued.

Rathasak added that several bilateral meetings would also be held with development partners to strengthen Cambodia’s tourism development.

This year, the ATF is held with the theme “ASEAN: Journey to Wonderful Destinations”. In addition to tourism officials from the ASEAN nations, development partners and officials from China, Japan, South Korea, India and Russia are expected to attend.

The ministry said it has also collaborated with the private sector to participate in a large travel expo. The exposition is expected to feature more than 2,000 delegates, 250 booths, vendors from 500 companies and more than 250 purchasing agents as well.

According to the ministry, Cambodia will receive 17 awards from the ASEAN Tourism Awards 2023 in four categories. The awards will go to Phnom Penh and seven provinces.

The ATF is the largest annual tourism event in the ASEAN region. The event is attended by top industry policy makers, practitioners and suppliers of ASEAN-based tourism products and services.

The forum includes dialogue among government bodies and private sector organisations, as well as a travel exposition with ASEAN exhibitors and international buyers from major travel markets.