Southeast Asia is an incredible region with rich culture, the tastiest food and fascinating heritage sites. Because of its proximity to Hong Kong, my home base, I’ve been fortunate enough to hop over to several member states to discover what they have to offer.
I know I don’t usually share too many updates about upcoming trips, but I’m extremely excited be headed back to Vietnam in January to attend the annual ASEAN Tourism Forum organized by ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) as hosted media. Bánh mì and phở bò, here I come!
So, what exactly is this event? The ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) is a cooperative regional effort to promote ASEAN as one tourism destination. This annual event involves all the tourism industry sectors of the 10 member states of ASEAN: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Each year, the hosting of ATF is rotated among the member countries – this year, it will be hosted in Halong Bay in Quang Ninh Province. Last year it was hosted in Thailand, and in 2017 it was hosted in Singapore. The theme of this year’s ATF is about “The Power of One”, as ASEAN has recognized that tourism is a driving force across its various member states and has positively contributed to the region’s socio-economic development.
This year, in addition to formal meetings between officials of the national tourism organizations and tourism associations of ASEAN member states, the event will also feature exhibition and business appointments, networking opportunities and pre- and post-event familiarization trips. The ASEAN Tourism Conference will also feature seminars and presentations on relevant issues by experts and industry leaders.
As a member of the travel industry, it’s important that I play an active role and educate myself on trends and relevant issues. I can’t wait to hear about what ASEAN and its member countries has in store for the upcoming years, and to learn about their initiatives when it comes to promoting sustainable tourism in the region, showcasing secondary and tertiary destinations and getting the inside scoop on where to go in Southeast Asia in 2019.
As the event is being held in Halong Bay, which is quite possibly Vietnam’s most famous UNESCO site, I’ll be able to not only revisit one of the most stunning natural wonders I’ve ever seen, but also discover the newest hidden gem that Vietnam and Quang Ninh Province has to offer: Lan Ha Bay.
Though we traveled to Halong Bay earlier this year, I’m excited to see the less-touristy alternative and to discover Halong Bay off-the-beaten-track. The bay is located south of Halong Bay and has only recently opened to tourism, which means that it has remained unspoiled and uncrowded. Like Halong Bay, Lan Ha Bay features towering limestone pillars, hidden caves, pristine beaches and crystal-clear emerald green waters.
I’ll be joining Heritage Line’s new Ginger cruise on a 2 day, 1 night voyage through this tranquil hidden gem. Stay tuned for more photos and videos, I’ll also be sharing lots of updates and behind-the-scenes goodness via Instagram Stories – you can follow me @yogawinetravel. I hope you’ll come along for the ride!