Mekong Tourism Forum to Host the First Film Destination Conference and Mekong Mini Movie Festival

ASEAN, Mekong, culture,

The first ‘Asia Film Destination Conference’ and ‘Mekong Mini Movie Festival’ is to draw videographers’ attention to the Greater Mekong Subregion.

For the first time, Destination Mekong is hosting the 1st Asia Film Destination Conference, as part of the Mekong Mini Movie Festival, co-located with the 2018 Mekong Tourism Forum on June 26th in Nakhon Phanom, Thailand.

Emceed by famed storyteller and early Lonely Planet Book author Joe Cummings, and chaired by H.E. Pongpanu Svetarundra, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports of Thailand, the conference explores the power of movie productions and user-generated videos and how they can be integrated into destination marketing.

In light of recent events, the first edition of the Asia Film Destination Conference is dedicated to Mr. Anthony Bourdain, a visionary storyteller for CNN who just passed away.

Today, tourists are more experienced and are looking for new destinations and new experiences. Numerous films have inspired millions to visit destinations. In recent years, there has been a growing phenomenon that tourists visit destinations featured in films and user-generated social media clips.

Recent research suggests that movies can have a strong influence on tourist decision-making and that films do not only provide short-term tourism revenue but can build long-term prosperity in a destination. Several countries and destinations quickly understood these advantages and have successfully increased the number of tourists through the magic of films.

Rob Holmes, CEO of award-winning destination film production company GLP Films will kick-off the conference with an overview of the power of film to tell the story of a destination.

In the Greater Mekong Subregion, there have been various films that have put destinations in the region on the map, starting from the Tomb Raider movies with Angelina Jolie in Cambodia, The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprio in Thailand, Rambo in Myanmar, Kong in Viet Nam to the hit Chinese comedy film “Lost in Thailand”. Lost in Thailand in particular resulted in large numbers of Chinese tourists flocking to Thailand.

Deepak Ohri, CEO of Lebua Hotels & Resorts will present a case study of “Hangover 2”, which was filmed at the Bangkok property and put the hotel in movie theatres worldwide.

Ms. Sirinart Theenanondh, Chief of Film Business Promotion, Thailand Department of Tourism will explain how countries like Thailand compete for movie productions, while Ms. Titiporn Manenate, Director International Advertising, Tourism Authority of Thailand will demonstrate how Thailand has used film and video to attract visitors to visit Thailand.

Mr. Gopinath Parayil, CEO & Founder of The Blue Yonder from India shows how his award winning films have introduced community-based tourism projects in his country, while Lao-based film maker Mr. Cyril Eberle who directed films like “A day in a Buddhist Temple” and the upcoming documentary “A little Land of Mines” will highlight how visual storytelling can make a positive impact and can create positive change.

Video Bloggers also have the power to influence consumers on where and how to experience a destination, especially in a world where user-generated content receives increased trust from consumers. Video blogger Art Thomya shows how brands can work with travel bloggers and what kind of content can promote destinations.

The innovative Mekong Mini Movie campaign is another testament to how film can promote destinations. After four months, people have shared and tagged over 300 mini movies of 60 seconds or less with #MekongMoments and #Minis on their own social media platforms, including Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. These films, inspiring people all over the world with shared experiences to visit the member countries of the Mekong Region have so far already reached over 6 million people worldwide. The annual Mekong Mini Movie Festival has assembled a high-profile advisory board from travel CEOs to award-winning film makers, which can be viewed at: www.MekongMinis.com/Advisors

Jens Thraenhart, Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office and Chair of Destination Mekong, the initiator of the Mekong Mini Movie Festival and the 1st Asia Film Destination Conference comments: “Today, video is one of the most powerful mediums when promoting a destination. It has the chance to awaken wanderlust in the viewer by showing the essence and uniqueness of a place in a just a few short moments. But the power of inspiring people via film goes beyond promoting destinations, it can also drive change.”

The annual campaign that continues until the end of the year is giving out the first set of country and category prizes right after the Film Destination Conference. The Mekong Mini Movie Festival Award Ceremony is chaired by H.E. Weerasak Kowsarut, Minister of Tourism and Sports of Thailand. Uniquely, one of the prizes is the Industry Choice Award which allows Mekong Tourism Forum delegates to vote for their favourite Mekong Mini Movie during the Screening. Other prizes include the Editors Choice Awards, judged by an expert jury and the respective Tourism Ministries of the Mekong member countries, the luxury category prize being sponsored by Rosewood Hotels & Resorts.

Submissions to the next set of prizes will close in October 2018. The final prizes of the 2018 Mekong Mini Movie Campaign will be announced at the 2019 ASEAN Tourism Forum in Halong Bay, Vietnam on January 15th.