The Ministry of Tourism on January 18 held a meeting to finalise plans for hosting the Mekong Tourism Forum 2023 in Preah Sihanouk province in April.

Cambodia is set to host the 51st Meeting of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Tourism Working Group (TWG-51) and the Mekong Tourism Forum themed “Rethink for Resilience and Digitalisation”, in the coastal province on April 24-28.

Thong Rathasak, head of the ministry’s General Department of Tourism Development and International Cooperation, said: “The Mekong Tourism Forum is a programme within the framework of economic cooperation of GMS member states. The programme focuses mainly on strengthening and advancing state and private partnerships in tourism to develop products and promote tourism in GMS countries as well as to attract tourists and provide them with new, unique experiences.”

He highlighted the importance of the forum, saying that international experts are scheduled to give presentations on two topics: the re-thinking of tourism and the re-thinking of the food system in tourism.

He added that the participants will discuss three other points: smart tourism and smart tourist destinations through technology; re-thinking food to protect the planet; and strengthening human capital for resilience in tourism.

Tourism minister Thong Khon, who led the meeting, recommended that for the hosting of the forum, they set up inter-ministerial committees and sub-committees.

He said the roles and duties of those bodies would be divided clearly to guarantee good safety, comfort and reception of delegates, speakers, the private sector and local and international journalists.

He also suggested that they organise a reception for the delegates, the private sector representatives, speakers and domestic and international journalists at the airport, as well as “post-tours” around Sihanoukville and the islands in collaboration with provincial authorities.

He also suggested wider national and international promotion of the event.

Cambodia Association of Travel Agents adviser Ho Vandy said that this forum is very important for GMS nations to gain benefits from tourism and transport.

“This forum is always hosted in rotation. So, when Cambodia host the forum, it gets some benefit, especially from promoting the government’s policy internationally,” he added.