Monday, January 17, 2011

ATF kicks off

The main entrance into the Travex exhibition hall resembles the South Gate of Angkor Thom
The Asean Tourism Forum 2011 really kicked off for me today with an early morning visit to register as local media and to have a quick peek inside the exhibition hall, with a background cacophony of drills and hammers as booths were being assembled ahead of the Travex trade show later this week. Over 430 companies will exhibit from the 10 member nations of ASEAN: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. It's all taking place at Diamond Island, aka Koh Pich, with the opening ceremony taking place from 5pm tomorrow night, outdoors and in the company of the prime minister Hun Sen. There are high level ministerial meetings taking place all week, late night functions, extravagant dinners and shows, hosted lunches, golf tournaments, and more. I'm one of the 148 media reps from 32 countries who will reporting this annual event to the masses, even though, rather disappointingly, the Travex trade show will not be open to the public. The fancy exhibition booths I saw this morning are for travel trade people only whereas I know the Cambodian public would've loved them. This is the most important tourism spectacular of the year for Southeast Asian countries and Cambodia is pulling out all the stops to make sure it's a success with at least 500 performers on stage tomorrow for the opening ceremony including some of my friends from the royal ballet team. It's all rather exciting.
Inside the exhibition hall the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism's Preah Vihear is still under construction
A couple of demons welcome you to the ATF exhibition hall

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