Portraits of travel

Portraits of travel

Destination Mekong has announced the launch of the inaugural Asia Film Destination Conference next Tuesday up in Nakhon Phanom in Northeast Thailand as part of the Mekong Mini Movie Festival, which runs in parallel with the 2018 Mekong Tourism Forum.

Emceed by storyteller and early “Lonely Planet Book” author Joe Cummings, and chaired by Pongpanu Svetarundra, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports of Thailand, the conference sets out to explore the power of movie productions and user-generated videos and how they can be integrated with destination marketing.

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The first edition of the Asia Film Destination Conference is dedicated to the late Anthony Bourdain, a visionary storyteller who in many ways was a trailblazer in how we create travel content today, video in particular. His work with the CNN brought remote spots of the globe into peoples’ homes and inspired many to travel and explore the world with a new sense of curiosity.

Tourists today, the organisers note, are always on the lookout for new destinations and new experiences and movies, as well as social media clips, often inspire them to visit destinations for the very first time. 

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. 

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

In the Greater Mekong Sub-region, various films have put destinations in the region on the map in recent years, starting with the “Tomb Raider” movies with Angelina Jolie in Cambodia, “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio in Thailand, “Rambo” in Myanmar, “Kong” in Vietnam to the hit Chinese comedy film “Lost in Thailand”. “Lost in Thailand” in particular, has resulted in large numbers of Chinese tourists flocking to Thailand.

Deepak Ohri, chief executive officer 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.

Sirinart Theenanondh, chief of Thailand Department of Tourism’s film business promotion, will explain how countries like Thailand compete for movie productions, while Titiporn Manenate, director of Tourism Authority of Thailand’s international advertising, will demonstrate how Thailand has used film and video to attract visitors to visit Thailand.

Gopinath Parayil, chief executive and 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 filmmaker Cyril Eberle, who directed films like “A Day in a Buddhist Temple” as well as the upcoming documentary “A Little Land of Mines”, explains how visual storytelling can make a positive impact and 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 Mekong Mini Movie campaign is a clear example of how film can promote destinations. In just four months, people have shared and tagged more than 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, which inspire people all over the world with shared experiences to visit the member countries of the Mekong Region, have already reached more than 6 million people worldwide.

“Today, video is a powerful medium in 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. In partnership with WWF and Khiri Travel, the Mekong Mini Movie Festival is creating awareness of sustainable tourism and conservation, focusing on the festival’s mascot, the endangered Mekong Dolphin,” comments 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. 

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 Weerasak Kowsarut, minister of Tourism and Sports of Thailand. 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.

Winners will receive the specially designed Dolphin Trophy created by Thai designer Thanwin Kamyeam in addition to once-in-a-lifetime trips in the region worth up to $16,000 each.

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 15.

Go a little deeper

– Find out more about the Mekong Minis and how you can participate at www.MekongMinis.com.

– Information on the Asia Film Destination Conference can be found at http://MekongTourismForum.org

– Registration is free at https://www.zipeventapp.com/e/MekongTourismForum2018.

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