More than 5,500 one-on-one talks to explore business opportunities are believed to have taken place yesterday at the Travel Exchange (TRAVEX) as part of the ongoing Asean Tourism Forum 2013 (ATF 2013) in Vientiane.

The week-long annual forum began on January 18 and ends today.

Some 460 buyers of tourism products from across the globe and more than 900 sellers from the 10 Asean member countries met up for the talks at the Travel Exchange – the longest-running annual Asean leisure travel trade event. The event is taking place at the Lao Trade Exhibition and Convention Centre (Lao-ITECC).

The talks yesterday were set up the day after buyers and sellers agreed on times for the talks, said the Director General of the Tourism Marketing Department, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Saly Phimphinith.

Officials in charge of the Travel Exchange said one buyer was set to hold talks with at least 12 sellers, which would bring the number of talks to more than 5,500. But officials were unable to estimate the number of agreements that were reached, saying no official records are yet available.

“We can’t estimate how many agreements were signed. It is hard to have any record of this because some parties might sign after the forum,” Mr Saly said.

Officials were optimistic that more talks would take place today between buyers and sellers to explore business opportunities.

According to a media release available at the event, the Travel Exchange, which occupies an exhibition area of 9,000 square metres, features 490 booths set up by 354 companies from the 10 Asean member countries to showcase their tourism products.

Almost 1,600 delegates comprising exhibitors, buyers and media representatives attended the event.

In addition, tourism ministers and high-ranking officials from Asean member countries and their dialogue partners China, Japan, Republic of Korea and India convened ministerial-level meetings during the forum.

Three separate meetings, namely the Asean Tourism Ministers meeting; the Asean+China, Japan and Republic of Korea Tourism Ministers Meeting (Asean + 3); and the Asean+India Tourism Ministers Meeting took place.

With the ATF 2013 taking place under the theme ‘Asean Hand in Hand, Conquering Our Future’, the three meetings discussed joint efforts to develop cooperation plans to integrate the tourism industry and connectivity, especially in the air transport sector, to sustain tourism growth.

Asean National Tourism Organisations and their counterparts from the dialogue partners as well as meetings of the four Asean associations also took place to deepen cooperation. These are the Asean Tourism Association, Federation of Asean Travel Association, the Asean Airlines Association, and the Asean Hotel and Restaurant Association.

Source: Vientiane Times
January 25, 2013