ITB Asia News 2019 Day 1 Edition



16 OCTOBER 2019





















ITB Asia: Bold thoughts,

bold moves

This year’s show kicks off with a stellar line-up of

conference speakers and a major hike in DMO participation

As Asia’s leading travel trade show opens

the gates for its twelfth edition, it shines

more than ever as the premier meeting

place for the travel trade industry – forging

new partnerships and strengthening

existing business relationships with the

region’s most important players.

Nabeel Shariff


and Serendipity Tailormade

There is not a one-size-fits-all

when it comes to halal travel. See page 12


This year, the show is set to deliver some

thought-provoking and inspiring content

to industry practitioners as part of its

conference programme. Themed “Bold

Thoughts, Bold Moves”, the conference

brings together thought leaders from across

the MICE, Leisure, Corporate, and Travel

Tech sectors for high-level discussions on

the trends that are galvanising change in the

travel industry. At the same time, ITB Asia

is seeing record participation of national

and regional tourism organisations – up

around 25% on last year. These come in

addition to stalwarts of the show, such as

Indonesia – see our exclusive interview

with Rizki Handayani, Deputy Minister

for Marketing Development for ASEAN

markets at Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism

– page 13.

John Amaratunga

Minister of Tourism Development, Wildlife

and Christian Religious Affairs, Sri Lanka

Rizki Handayani

Deputy Minister for Marketing Development for

ASEAN markets, Ministry of Tourism, Indonesia

The government is very keen to

promote investment in the sector and

is offering attractive incentives.

See page 14



© Sri Lanka - One Island.Many Worlds

Katrina Leung

Managing Director, Messe Berlin (Singapore)

The strongest participation this

year comes from Asia, with

Southeast Asia well represented,

and newcomers Myanmar and

Jakarta… See page 15

In the first half of 2019, Asia–Pacific

continued to see strong tourism growth,

with a year-on-year rise of 6% over the

previous half, according to the September

barometer of the UNWTO. South Asia and

Northeast Asia reported 7% growth. Get all

the details, along with spotlights on key

exhibiting nations, from page 23.

Ruwanweli Maha Saya



Richard Barnes



buyers up 35%

in 2019

ITB Asia: providing

tangible takeaways

ITB Asia has continuously

succeeded in providing a

platform for which industry

players from across the

MICE, leisure and corporate

travel markets are brought

together, securing growing

interest among international

exhibitors, travel companies

and international buyers.

Attendees are assured to leave

with tangible takeaways and

expert insights gleaned.

ITB A sia thus continues

to receive overwhelming

responses. As such, it is able

to expand, allowing it to

continuously refine its focus to

better provide for the demands

of its attendees. Just this year

alone, ITB Asia has strengthened

its MICE component through

the launch of MICE Show Asia;

and introduced the Buyers Elite

Partner Programme, which

upholds the quality of services

for buyers at the show. This

year will also see an increase in

the buyer contingent attending

the show, with Asia still a

majority, but with an increase in

European and American buyers.

In a time of continued growth,

industry players are eager to

keep capitalising on it, wanting

to gain insights of the current

and upcoming trends in the

travel scene. As the largest

travel trade show in Asia

Pacific, ITB Asia is working hard

to provide a platform for which

they can gather to establish

high-quality contacts and

conduct business. And with ITB

Asia’s robust conference lineup

also covering major themes

and trends shaping the future

of travel, including pressing

and pertinent issues such as

geopolitics and corporate

development, many will look

to them to gain insights on

how to navigate the changing

landscape, and receive practical

applications on how to keep

pace with these rapid changes

affecting the industry. It all

augurs well for another great

show this year.

Building on the success of

2018’s Buyers Programme,

this year’s ITB Asia has seen

a 35% increase in approved

buyers. Buyers are coming

from across the world but

specifically from highgrowth

markets such as

Southeast Asia, China and


“As the leading travel trade show,

we want to provide a dynamic

and diverse platform for our

stakeholders to forge strong

business relationships. We are

pleased to have attracted a greater

number of buyers to this year’s

show, specifically from markets

which have shown to have huge

growth potential in travel and

tourism. By working closely with

our exhibitors and through the

new Elite Partner Programme,

we hope to spur more business

opportunities for both parties,” said

Katrina Leung, Managing Director

of Messe Berlin (Singapore), the

organiser of ITB Asia.

Under the new Buyers Elite Partner

Programme (BEPP) initiative, for

every partner that recommends

15 successful buyers to attend

the show, ITB Asia will provide

complimentary hosting. This

gives partners a platform to

develop stronger trade ties with

recommended buyers and secure

more business opportunities


ITB Asia has been working closely

with industry partners old and

new, from the MICE, Corporate

and Leisure segments. Corporate

partners this year include the

Association of Corporate Travel

Executives (ACTE), new partner

Corporate Travel Management

(CTM), and the United Networks

of International Corporate Event

Organisers (UNICEO). ACTE will be

returning with its Corporate Travel

Day once more this year, while CTM

will be hosting a conference for

corporate travel, providing curated

content for the corporate buying

segment to learn and network with

industry leaders.

Larry Lo, Chief Executive Officer

of CTM Asia, said, “At CTM, we

seek to remain at the forefront

of travel management services.

We are partnering with ITB Asia

this year to showcase how our

innovative technology helps us to

provide personalised services and

a positive return on investment

for our customers – an advantage

that ensures we stay ahead of the

changes that are sweeping the

travel sector”


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Doing business on the show floor –

ITB Asia 2018

ITB ASIA NEWS • Wednesday 16 October 2019







Senior figures from

Berlin and Singapore

open ITB Asia 2019

An artist impression featuring a bird’s

eye view of the developments on Sentosa

and Pulau Brani, under the Sentosa- Brani

Master Plan.

Landmark masterplan

will transform Sentosa

and Brani islands into

Singapore’s trendiest leisure


Michael Müller, The Governing

Mayor of Berlin, and Chee Hong Tat,

Senior Minister of State, Ministry of

Trade and Industry & Ministry of

Education, Republic of Singapore are

guests of honour for this morning’s

official opening conference and

ceremony at ITB Asia.

Accompanied by Dr Christian Göke,

CEO of Messe Berlin GmbH, the

senior government figures are set

to tour the show floor, which this

year has evolved from previous

editions onto two levels, expanding

to include the MICE show, and a

new registration zone. Keith Tan,

Chief Executive, Singapore Tourism

Board will also be also present for

the opening.

The Governing Mayor of Berlin, Michael

Müller, who has travelled to Singapore for

the opening of ITB Asia.

The first key milestone of Sentosa Brani Master Plan

has been recently unveiled, which will reinforce Sentosa

Island as Singapore’s largest leisure destination.

Sentosa Island and the

neighbouring island of Brani,

currently a loading area for

cargo, is due to be turned into an

enhanced leisure and tourism

destination, according Sentosa

Development Corporation


“The Sentosa-Brani Master

Plan will position Singapore

as a leading destination for

the next few decades. Sentosa

Sensoryscape is the first project

under this Master Plan, it will

complement the expansion

of Resort World Sentosa and

subsequent infrastructure

enhancements on Sentosa and

Brani. Our tourism industry

has plenty of scope for further

growth and rejuvenation,”

said Senior Minister of State

for Trade and Industry and

Education, Mr Chee Hong Tat.

The Sentosa-Brani Master

Plan will be rolled out in

phases over the next two to

three decades. It will see SDC

leveraging the islands’ ridgeto-reef

attributes to bring in

world-class attractions as well

as new night-time offerings.

The new spaces will reflect

authenticity and sustainability –

including rejuvenated beaches

and nature trails through five

distinct zones – Vibrant Cluster,

Island Heart, Waterfront,

Ridgeline, and Beachfront.

The new 30,000 sqm Sentosa

Sensoryscape will link Resorts

World Sentosa in the north

to Sentosa’s beaches in the

south through a multi-sensory

experience. Work will start by

the end of 2019 and will be

completed in 2022.

Sentosa Sensoryscape will

feature a series of novel,

picture-worthy vessel-like

structures, measuring some 25

m wide and 13 m tall. Each of

these will be framed by unique

architectural features, based on

the five senses through various

elements such as polyphonic

water features, mist as well

as fragrant flowers and plant


While works are ongoing for

Sentosa Sensoryscape, guests

will still be able to access and

enjoy Sentosa’s diverse array of

leisure experiences. However,

the giant Singapore Merlion

statue will be demolished to

give way to the new build


Both Berlin and Singapore have

been experiencing an extraordinary

economic and social evolution

over the past decades. The two

destinations are also rejoicing

Seoul continues to be a popular

venue for MICE and conferences.

The recently hosted International

Bar Association (IBA) Annual

Conference is the latest example

of one of several major global

organizations utilizing the city’s

popular PLUS SEOUL support

programme for meetings. The IBA

event attracted at COEX, Seoul’s

largest meeting facility, some 5,000

professionals from 120 countries.

Recently, the city played host

to the International Standards

Organization (ISO)’s TC258

Plenary Meeting by welcoming

60 ISO representatives from 38

countries. On 29 October, Seoul

ICCV Expo 2019 will also welcome

the Computer Vision Foundation

(CVF) and IEEE Computer Society.

ICCV 2019 will also receive 5,000

delegates in the field of computer


this year, with the German capital

celebrating 30 years since the fall of

the wall, and Singapore celebrating

the bicentenary of Stamford Raffles’

arrival here




Upgraded for 2019, PLUS SEOUL

provides a wide range of support

for international conferences from

bidding to highly-customized

hosting as well for add-on

features. Seoul ranks in third

place worldwide for the number of

meetings hosted, according to the

latest UIA International Meetings

Statistics Report – a position it

has now held for four consecutive



The IBA event took place

at COEX in Seoul

ITB ASIA NEWS • Wednesday 16 October 2019



ITB Asia launches

its MICE Show

Asia conference

The inaugural MICE Show Asia conference aims to redefine

industry practices and identify new trends that will shape

the future of MICE events with ten different themes.

Attendees at an ITB Asia 2018 conference

Thought leadership

drives business

With the theme of this morning’s opening keynote being “The

future of travel in Asia: get ready for the next wave of growth”,

this year’s ITB Asia kicks off on a decidedly positive theme.

In addition to the ITB Asia

Knowledge Theatre, a swathe of

conferences take place on different

conference tracks: corporate

travel, destination marketing,

Muslim travel, travel technology,

and the MICE Show Asia, making

up six conference tracks in total.

The keynote presentations this

year follow the theme, “Bold

Thoughts, Bold Moves”. They

focus on sharing innovative ideas,

where attendees can expect to

gain knowledge on practical

applications to keep pace with

industry changes. Recognising the

revolutionary impact of technology

on the travel industry, speakers

from leading online travel agencies

(OTA), travel-related partners

and technology companies will

share their perspectives on how

businesses can innovate and

leverage on technology as they

tackle the challenges of this era.

The show will open today with

a keynote session on managing

industry’s biggest pain points. The

session brings together experts

from the biggest pillars in the

travel industry – accommodation,

distribution and technology: and IBM. Addressing

the industry’s common challenges,

topics will include how businesses

can ready themselves for the next

wave of growth.

ITB Asia 2019’s keynote panel

on 17 October, “The Future of

Travel Distribution”, will identify

business solutions for challenges

faced by the sector during a time

of uncertainty. The discussion will

be led by senior executives from

Agoda, Expedia Group, Google,

TripAdvisor and Wego. They will

answer the big “Where to next?”

question, as they explore the

rapidly changing travel industry,

new technological advancements,

and implement diverse distribution

strategies to improve the consumer




ITB Asia has organised a series of

talks on happiness, well-being and

emotional intelligence. Explore

the big questions in life and

uncover what will bring lasting,

genuine happiness for you as an

individual, your employees and

your customers

16 – 18 October 2019,

12:00 – 13:00

Knowledge Theatre

MICE Show Asia is taking place

alongside ITB Asia 2019 from

October 16 to 18 under the theme

“Winning the Hearts of MICE


Over 30 speakers from

convention and visitor bureaus,

MICE buyers’ organisations,

MICE tech companies and

start-ups, are discussing topics

ranging from event organisation

and management, the power

of collective intelligence and

technological applications to

predict trends.

“The mission of MICE Show

Asia 2019 is to provide industry

suppliers with the insights and

strategies to meet ever-evolving

buyers’ needs. As the MICE scene

grows, there has never been a

greater need to bring together

industry professionals to share

their knowledge and perspectives.

Our conference sessions are

designed to get attendees to

rethink how they understand the

industry, and gain the ability to set

themselves apart,” tells Katrina

Leung, Managing Director of

Messe Berlin (Singapore).

The show will see top buyers’

partners and MICE industry

players, such as BestCities

Global Alliance, HelmsBriscoe,

P r o f e s s i o n a l C o n v e n t i o n

Management Association (PCMA),

United Networks of International

Corporate Events Organizers

(UNICEO), come together to speak

and share their expertise.

During MICE Show Asia 2019,

industry experts are challenging

and providing new perspectives

on archetypal approaches to the

MICE buyer-seller paradigm.

“Unconventional thinking:

Winning the hearts of MICE

buyers” include leaders from

Chiba Convention Bureau, Elias

Events, Mix – Asia’s Creative

Meetings Magazine, Thailand

Convention & Exhibition Bureau

(TCEB) and The Project Office

of the Moscow City Tourism


Discussions focusing on MICE

tech, improving audience

e n g a g e m e n t a n d t r e n d s

forecasting, reducing audience

attrition and responding to

shifting industry trends will be

shared with specialists such as

American Express Meetings

& Events, Aventri, Cvent,

Meetingbox bie Succevo GmbH

and PouchNATION.

“I am sharing key trends shaping

the meetings and events

industry and look at ways to

create compelling and engaging

meetings, including technology

enhancements, event design

priorities, and maximizing

budgets,” says Kaori Pereyra-

Lago, Regional Lead, APAC,

Global Business Development

& Strategy, American Express

Meetings & Events

ITB ASIA NEWS • Wednesday 16 October 2019



Overview of Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Round Table Setup - Grand Lagoon Ballroom

Lavish renovation of the Grand

Ballroom and event spaces at Sunway

Resort and Spa

The four-month closure of the Grand Ballroom and meeting spaces at

Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa near Kuala Lumpur gave way to a spectacular

facility mixing grandeur, sophistication and a contemporary touch

The Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa recently finished a €11.7 million

refurbishment programme of its Grand Ballroom as well as

meeting and function rooms. Technology upgrades, enhanced

facilities and grandeur now characterize the grand Ballroom

after the four-month closure.

“We are very excited to now offer

a completely refreshed venue to

our guests, which includes a very

chic event space with advanced

t e c h n o l o g y a n d u p g r a d e d

amenities,” said Roger Marcz,

Cluster General Manager of Sunway

Resort Hotel & Spa. “For the past

22 years, we have hosted numerous

local and international corporate

events, meetings and social

celebrations, and we are delighted

to be adding a new chapter to our

story, especially with our iconic

Grand Ballroom, a timeless space

like no other.”

Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa is well

known with travellers on their way

from Kuala Lumpur International

Airport to the city centre of the

Malaysian capital. The flagship

5-star complex offers close to

1,500 rooms within an 324 hectare

theme park and jungle which forms

Sunway City Kuala Lumpur. The

hotel complex features a collection

of Premier and Club rooms,

suites, pool villas and serviced

residences and facilities like a

free-form landscaped swimming

pool, meeting and event venues, a

convention centre; a theme park,

a shopping and entertainment

mall, a medical centre and several

globally recognised institutions of

higher learning – all within a single

integrated destination.

The concept and inspiration to

develop “function spaces of the

future to create masterpiece

moments” were the result of

months of customer focus group

feedback, data insights and design

simulations.The 210 sq m Ballroom

overlooks the lagoon and Sunway

City was renovated with a new

luxurious palette of colours in shades

of gold, bronze, platinum and royal

blue. Contemporary textures and

bold geometric patterns were used

on walls, carpeting and ceiling.

Grand crystal dome lights with

smart lighting system runs through

the ballroom, including the vast

ballroom foyer - in addition to the

natural light from windows, giving it

a completely different scene during

the day and night.

The pillarless Grand Ballroom

features a dramatic 30ft high ceiling

and a grand built-in elevated stage

equipped with high definition LED

screen backdrop, alongside four

additional LED screens located

on the front and side walls off the

ballroom for guests to enjoy an

unobstructed view from every


The Ballroom can seat 2,000 guests

in a banquet setting, 2,700 guests in

a theatre setting and 1,400 guests

in a classroom setting. It also has

divisible partitioning features that

can split the ballroom into three

separate rooms to cater for smaller

event needs.

To complement the Ballroom and

cater to business events, smaller

functions and social gatherings,

thirty-two column-free meeting

rooms measuring 30 to 344 sq m

spread across three levels of the

hotel has also been transformed

with new carpeting, wall coverings,

lightings and furniture, including its

pre-function spaces and common

coffee break areas. The use of wood

and fabric, including wall coverings

made from Jute gives a warm

environmental-friendly cosiness.

High-end technology has been

fitted in to give small meetings, and

brainstorms an extra edge. These

includes built-in LED projection

screens or an 86” interactive

touchscreen TV with screen sharing

and built-in whiteboard function

which supports multiple devices,

as well as the possibility to save

the whiteboard content into a USB


New names for all event rooms

reflect the new identity. The

combined three and four rooms are

now named “Grand Forum” and

“Grand Congress”. Under the Arena

are a range of rooms, including

Arena 4, a popular choice due to its

panoramic windows overlooking

the city skyline


ITB ASIA NEWS • Wednesday 16 October 2019


Muslim travel

Tapping into the diversity of the Halal market

Nabeel Shariff is the founder of and Serendipity

Tailormade, a team of halal-friendly travel experts who are

selling packages and tailor-made travel to Muslim travellers.

Shariff is a speaker during ITB Asia’s Muslim Travel Conference

for a session entitled “Seven ways to make Muslim travellers

love your destination”. He tells ITB Asia how halal-friendly

travel is providing a flexible answer to Muslim travellers’


It is important to note that like non-

Muslim travellers, not all Muslim

travellers are seeking the same type

of holiday and what they demand

in terms of their faith-based needs

will also vary. However, what all

Muslim travellers do generally

desire is a travel experience; and

what they value mirrors general

global travellers’ trends – from

authenticity and adventure to

local cultural experiences and

responsible/ethical tourism.

Some Muslim travellers seek strict

alcohol-free resorts, female-only












swimming pools and a selection

of itineraries with break times for

the five daily prayers. But that’s

not for everyone. There is not a

one-size-fits-all when it comes to

halal travel. In the coming years,

services from accommodation to

attractions will have to evolve to

accommodate a common ground

that is acceptable to the majority

of Muslim travellers to ensure they

can reap the benefits.

What does Halal travel entail?

Halal travel is a term commonly

u s e d f o r M u s l i m - f r i e n d l y

travel. Contrary to common

perceptions it does not refer to

travel for religious or pilgrimage

purposes, but rather trips that

take Muslim faith-based needs

into consideration. These include

halal-friendly dining experiences,

the provision of prayer mats/

facilities, privacy enhancements,

family-friendly surroundings and

alcohol-free options. From our

own study from April 2018, 97%

of Muslim travellers stated that

privacy of accommodation is a

“must have” or “nice to have” and

that 73% of Muslim travellers want

to experience new cultures, but

at the same time be able to meet

their prayer requirements during

their trip.

Do you believe travel advisors

have a clear vision of the market?

If not, what do you think are their

key misconceptions?

I believe there have been some

incredible strides for Muslim

friendly travel, considering 10

years ago there was no formal

structure in place. When it

comes to faith, there have been

challenges and perceptions to

overcome. Hoteliers’, destinations’

and attractions’ growing attention

to Muslim travellers has meant

more and more services.

Tell us about your company and

how you facilitate Halal travel.

O v e r t h e p a s t n i n e y e a r s ,

Serendipity Tailormade has bridged

the gap between Muslim travellers

and major destinations around the

world, creating experiences that

meet Muslim travellers’ aspirations

and faith-based needs. The 2019

Nabeel Shariff


and Serendipity Tailormade

launch of, our first

online booking platform dedicated

to Muslim travellers, is now

helping them to curate and book

their own personalised journey.

As a company that seeks to be a

pioneer in the halal travel space,

launching Rihaala was the next

logical step in our growth story.

Travel technology has moved on

and so have Muslim travellers and

we are listening to our customers

about how they want to book and

experience travel now and in the


How important is ITB Asia as a

platform to discuss issues like


A valued platform such as ITB Asia

profiles the rise in Muslim friendly

travel and shows how far this

sector of the market will play in

the future, especially from the Asia

continent. Muslim travellers from

Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore

and not forgetting The Philippines

and Thailand provide the region

and beyond with a wealth of

opportunities to diversify their

audience from the more traditional

markets. Japan, South Korea and

Taiwan have already seen the

positivity of providing Muslimfriendly

services and as more

destinations follow suit, Muslim

travellers will duly reciprocate by

exploring and visiting

ITB ASIA NEWS • Wednesday 16 October 2019








Rizki Handayani

Deputy Minister for Marketing Development

for ASEAN markets, Ministry of Tourism,

Republic of Indonesia

Spotlight on accessibility,

infrastructure and new attractions

Indonesia concentrates its development efforts on five Super Priority


In the last five years, Indonesia has been heavily promoting itself

to entice more tourists to visit the world’s largest archipelago.

ITB Asia asked Rizki Handayani, Deputy Minister for Marketing

Development for ASEAN markets at Indonesia’s Ministry of

Tourism to tell us about Indonesia’s tourism achievements,

particularly following the creation of 5 “new Bali” destinations.

As stated by President Joko Widodo,

the new 5 Super Priority Destinations

are a further development of

an earlier programme of 10

Priority Destinations. The five

destinations are Lake Toba (North

Sumatra), Borobudur temple and

surroundings (Central Java), Labuan

Bajo (Flores), Mandalika (Lombok)

and Likupang (North Sulawesi).

The Ministry of Tourism works with

partners for the development of

infrastructures, accessibility as well

as the promotion of these five super

priority destinations. All works

should be completed by 2020.

What kind of projects are being


We are witnessing a significant

d e v e l o p m e n t i n r e g a r d t o

accessibility, infrastructure and new

attractions. We are constructing

the new Yogyakarta International

Airport and expanding the runway

at Komodo Airport. On the other

hand, the government is planning

to build a luxury yacht marina

in Likupang integrating parking

facilities, as well as retail, and food

and beverage outlets. In Mandalika,

the construction of a MotoGP

Circuit started in September for an

estimated completion in 2020.

What are the key objectives for the

coming year in terms of incoming

tourist figures?

The Indonesian government has

set the target of 18.5 million foreign

tourists arrivals and will focus at

increasing tourists spending as

well as the length of stay for the

upcoming year.

What are the main axes of your


We are launching new strategies

to develop tourism in Indonesia.

Our strategic theme “Wonderful

Indonesia Digital Tourism 4.0”,

is a plan to improve our human

resources in order to win the

global competition among tourist

destinations but also develop

technological enablers.

O n t h e o t h e r h a n d , t h e

implementation of a tourism HR

transformation programme can be

carried out on the five “pentahelix”

elements (academics, industry,

government, community, and

media) towards a world-class

tourism industry.

To lead in this global market and

particularly in ASEAN countries, we

are targeting millennials with The Go

Digital programme. Digital Tourism

4.0 is focusing on millennials which

currently represent 50% of total

tourists inbound to Indonesia.

This advertising programme

will also be present on popular

platforms such as Google, Facebook

and Instagram. We also cooperate

with Visa for our branding, while is our selling partner

for packages that potential visitors

can directly purchase on our

website Indonesia.Travel.

How are your source markets


Last year, despite a decrease in

tourism growth rates, we still

managed to achieve a positive

growth of 12.58% that placed

Indonesia at the second position

in the region, after Vietnam.

International arrivals grew from an

average of 9% in 2009-13 to 14% in

2014-18. This growth contributed to

the increase of our foreign exchange

earnings to almost US$20bn last

year. These figures support our

expectations to see tourism as a

strong contributor to our economic

development in the years to come.

What do you do to inform travel

professionals around the world

about your new products?

The Ministry of Tourism invites

travel professionals to participate in

our tourism exhibitions and travel

fairs to promote our “5 new Balis”.

We also organise familiarisation

trips to let them experience our

destinations in real life. Finally, we

update our online presentation of

destinations and products at www.

Why is ITB Asia important?

ITB Asia is a strategic event to

promote Indonesia’s tourism

products to the Asia-Pacific market.

Through our participation, we hope

to reach buyers from the MICE,

leisure and corporate travel markets

and expand our networking with

leading travel companies

ITB ASIA NEWS • Wednesday 16 October 2019


A strong comeback

Tourism recovery is accelerating in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s Minister of Tourism Development,

Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs, John Amaratunga

talks about the current situation and recovery efforts

following the Easter Sunday attacks. ITB Asia News

asked how quickly the tourism industry in Sri Lanka has

bounced back.

well as road shows. We also

participate in all the major travel

fairs, and we are now carrying

out a strong digital campaign.

All these have contributed to

the recovery effort.

John Amaratunga

Minister of Tourism Development,

Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs,

Sri Lanka

Immediately after the Easter

attacks on 21st April 2019,

tourist arrivals dropped by as

much as 80%. Three top five

star hotels were targeted along

with three churches and there

was a mass exodus of tourists

in the days that followed

the attacks. However, the

government, along with the

security forces acted very fast

and all those responsible for

the attacks were apprehended

in a matter of days. As a result

of this, security was established

in all parts of the country,

especially at tourist hotspots.

This enabled the government

and industry stakeholders to

communicate the message that

Sri Lanka is safe for travel and

is ready to welcome visitors.

Due to these efforts, we saw

arrival numbers gradually

improving since June and I can

confirm that things are now

pretty much back to normal

as far as the winter bookings

are concerned. Sri Lanka is





now running a full campaign

on CNN and other influential

media conveying the fact that

we are still the top destination

to visit in 2019 as named by

Lonely Planet and Travel &

Leisure. In terms of numbers,

arrivals dropped to 35,000

in May and climbed to nearly

150,000 in August which shows

the trajectory of the recovery.

What are your expectations for


At the beginning of the year, our

target was 2.5 million tourists

for the full year 2019, after

achieving 2.3 million arrivals in

2018. We experienced a steady

growth of nearly five times over

the last decade. Back to 2009,

arrivals stood at just 450,000.

The hospitality sector has also

grown in parallel to tourist

arrivals, with all major hotel

brands investing in properties

in Sri Lanka. As an example,

Hilton is building five new

hotels across the country. Ritz

Carlton, Sheraton, Radisson,

Marriot, ITC, and Next are all

in the process of opening new

hotels. The government has

identified tourism as a key driver

of the economy, accounting

for 5% of GDP and employing

an estimated 500,000 people.

Last year, tourism revenue

shot up to US$4.3bn. Given

these figures, the government

is very keen to promote

investment in the sector and is

offering attractive incentives.

Projects are being fast-tracked

and support sectors such as

entertainment, and logistics,

are being encouraged. Despite

the terror attacks, we are

confident of achieving over 2

million visitors this year.

Could you tell us about

promotional efforts?

We have been planning a

massive destination promotion

campaign on a global scale for

some time now. The Easter

attacks derailed the plan to

some extent as we needed to

change our message, meaning

the launch was delayed a

little more than anticipated.

However, we are carrying out

country-specific campaigns

in key source destinations as

Some words about Sri Lanka

infrastructure investment….

Given the importance of

tourism for the government,

the investment in infrastructure

development has naturally

been quite heavy in the

recent past. For instance, new

highways are being constructed

across the country linking

distant locations with the

capital, new airports are being

built for domestic travel, train

services are being upgraded,

while tourism infrastructure

at popular resorts is being

modernised. All tourist sites

are being given a facelift with

upgraded facilities including

at wildlife parks, where ticket

bookings can now be made

online. In fact, most tourism

services are available online

due to investment in technology

Why is it important for Sri

Lanka to be present at ITB


I T B A s i a i s o f s p e c i a l

importance to Sri Lanka for

two reasons. One is because

our two biggest source markets

happen to be from Asia,

namely India and China. It is

of utmost importance that we

continue to grow these markets

with new tourism products

and sustainability initiatives.

One of the most effective ways

to achieve these objectives is

to make our presence felt at

ITB Asia. Secondly we are in

the process of recalibrating

our strategy to attract tourists

from short haul destinations as

an interim measure. As such,

Asia is now one of our most

important focus areas

ITB ASIA NEWS • Wednesday 16 October 2019








Katrina Leung

Managing Director of Messe Berlin


ITB Asia: what’s new?

Exclusive Interview: Katrina Leung, Managing Director of Messe Berlin

(Singapore) - organiser of ITB Asia and MICE Show Asia

Asia’s premium travel and

tourism trade event takes

new strides in 2019, with

a number of innovations.

We asked Katrina Leung,

Managing Director of Messe

Berlin (Singapore) - organiser

of ITB Asia and MICE Show

Asia to tell us more.

For the first time this year, ITB Asia

is organising the inaugural MICE

Show Asia 2019, which focuses

on Asia Pacific’s burgeoning MICE

sector. Highlight topics that will

be discussed during MICE Show

Asia include 2020 forecasts for the

global meetings and events and

the digital transformation of the

meeting and events industries. ITB

Asia has also introduced a new

Buyers Elite Partner Programme

(BEPP) this year. Under this new

initiative, every partner that

recommends 15 successful buyers

to attend the show will be able to

receive complimentary hosting

by ITB Asia. Additionally, there

is a new theatre included for the

show conference, Destination

Marketing. Top practitioners

in these sectors will discuss

topics such as getting the most

from social media to promote

travel destinations, and utilising

destination brands to attract


So MICE takes a front seat this

year… Can you tell us more about


Wi t h M I C E b e i n g a h i g h l y

competitive industry, it is a sector

that is expected to reach a size of

US$1.44 bn by 2025, with growth

in Asia Pacific expected to reach

8.6% through to 2023. Thus, with

the sheer potential of the market,

Messe Berlin, the event organisers

behind ITB Asia, responded by

launching MICE Show Asia, a

dedicated show for the industry,

looking to provide attendees

access to industry professionals

from across varied disciplines

to share their knowledge and


The conference features a stellar

line-up of speakers from top-tier

brands including American Express

Meetings & Events, Group GmbH

and Cvent. Themed “Winning the

Hearts of MICE Buyers”, more

than 30 speakers from Convention

and Visitor Bureaus (CVB), MICE

buyer organisations, MICE tech

companies and start-ups will

discuss topics ranging from events

organisation and management,

technological applications to

trends forecasting and challenging

conventional practices, 2020’s

forecasts for the global meeting

and events industries.

A r e t h e r e a n y m a j o r n e w

exhibitors to talk about?

The strongest participation this

year comes from Asia, with

Southeast Asia well represented,

and newcomers Myanmar and

Jakarta, taking part. North Asia will

see an expanded South Korean

contingent with Regional Tourism

Organisations from Gyeonggi,

Jeju and Seoul securing their own

booths. South Asia also sees a

larger presence as new exhibitors

such as Bhutan, the Maldives, and

Sri Lanka join India while Central

Asia is represented by Uzbekistan

which is taking part for the first


From Europe, tourism boards

representing Armenia, Italy,

the Balkan states - Macedonia,

Montenegro and Serbia are taking

part for the first time along with

Estonia and the Czech Republic.

Compared to previous years,

Hungary and Russia will also bring

larger contingents. New RTOs

from East Bavaria, Franconia,

Frankfurt and Magdeburg are also

part of a larger German contingent

with existing destinations like

Berlin and Saxony, present at ITB

Asia 2019.

Asian outbound tourism continues

to grow, providing opportunities

for National Tourism Organisations

(NTOs) and RTOs to promote

their destinations and capture

the market. With ITB Asia’s track

record of being an effective

business platform for which buyers

sign contracts with exhibitors,

NTOs and RTOs are continuously

attracted to participate with the

aim of promoting their destinations

to the show’s attendees.

A d d i t i o n a l l y, w i t h t h e n e w

exhibitors including the likes of

those from Central Asia, Balkan

states and smaller cities, there is

a shifting trend in which travellers

are seeking new places to travel,

propagated by social media.

Through conference sessions,

especially those in the Destination

Marketing track, destination

marketers are attracted to attend

ITB Asia, to gain insights on how

to maximise and capture the

potential from these travellers

ITB ASIA NEWS • Wednesday 16 October 2019








Global travel is booming. According to

the UNWTO, international tourist arrivals

worldwide increased 6% in 2018 to reach 1.4

bn.This number is attained two years ahead

of the organisation’s long-term forecast of

2010. The trend is likely to continue in the

coming years with further increases of 3% to

4% annually.

This growth will also mean an increased use

of travel cash cards and prepaid credit cards to

pay conveniently and securely abroad.Wirecard

is responding to this global megatrend with a

new customisable card product that supports

multiple currencies and can be issued by

companies to both their customers and

employees. The Multi-Currency Travel Card

can be used as a traditional or digital means

of payment and is set to replace travellers


Wirecard says there are no irritating foreign

exchange fees when paying or withdrawing

money in the destination country, the card

is accepted worldwide as a secure means of

payment and accounting is much easier thanks

to transparent payment processes. Visit the

Wirecard stand at ITB Asia to find out why the

practical travel card is also an ideal means of

increasing customer or employee retention

over the long term using loyalty bonuses or

attractive discounts


TravelCarma targets Umrah

operators with Travel

Technology Solutions at ITB

Asia 2019

T r a v e l C a r m a w i l l

meet potential buyers

in the vicinity of the

Musilm Travel Pavilion

to present its various

technology solutions,

including the ones for

the Umrah market.

TravelCarma is a global

travel technology brand

with over 20 years

of software delivery

experience. It already helps

tourism companies from

60 countries to achieve a

significant online presence

by providing end-to-end,

mobile-friendly online

travel solutions with their

own branding and access

to global inventory. The

company is present at ITB

Asia 2019, showcasing its

travel technology solutions


EMPERIA – A Travel

ERP Solution that helps

travel agencies and OTAs

automate reservations,

streamline back office

processes and centrally

manage distribution

Umrah pilgrims in Makkah, Saudi Arabia

firms to tie-up with any

partner globally without

making any change in their

existing system.

TravelCarma solutions

for Umrah operators are

targeting Muslim travellers.

The company developed

a fast and powerful

technology platform that

helps travel and hospitality

companies specialized in

Umrah travel to connect

with each other, as well

as third-party inventory

of hotels, packages, and

ground services, in line

with the new framework

being laid out by Saudi

Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj

and Umrah. The ministry is

currently exploring ways of

digitizing and automating

the reservation and visa

processes to make the

experience more accessible,

faster and more secure.

According to a Skift

research, Umrah travel

generates €200 bn with

South East Asia being an

important source market

thanks to Indonesia and



ADVENTIA – A booking

solution for tour operators

that allows them to load

their tour packages online,

configure B2B markups/

commissions and allow

their agents worldwide to

log in and make bookings

E-IMDP – Inventory

Distribution and Channel

Management Solution

allowing Wholesalers,

DMCs and large B2B players

to manage and distribute

their contracted inventories

via API across multiple

sales channels

• TDX – A platform-agnostic

aggregation engine that can

bundle multiple requests/

responses through a unified

API. It also enables travel

ITB ASIA NEWS • Wednesday 16 October 2019











Victor Ngo

CEO & Co-Founder, QUp World

Bringing together the

largest travel tech

showcase yet in Asia

Messe Berlin (Singapore) launches

Travel Tech Asia 2020 to meet growing

travel tech sector

QUp World introduces

a new era of sustainable

ride-hailing for global


QUp World is at ITB Asia

presenting a powerful “all-inone”

technology for groundtransportation

fleets and their

affiliated networks. Hundreds

of fleet owners across 180

cities have already chosen QUp

World’s advanced platform and

mobile apps for passengers,

drivers, and partners enable

total control in the management

of the business. We asked

company CEO and Co-founder

Victor Ngo to tell us a little


QUp technology brings a new era

of sustainable ride-hailing to global

travellers. QUp makes plug-andplay

mobility technology accessible

to local, legal and licensed ground

transfer providers. With QUp’s full

suite of fleet management, whitelabel

web and mobile booking app,

traditional ground transfer providers

can deliver a seamless online booking

and offline service experience to

their passengers, while significantly

streamlining their operational costs.

What are the trends affecting the

market of fleets and operators in the


Ground transfer is an essential part

of the travel ecosystem. The first and

last miles of the traveller’s journey

have always been duly serviced by

traditional fleet operators and transfer

providers. Frequent travellers were

used to scheduling a transfer pickup

in advance, through traditional

channels such as emails and phone


So traveller demand is changing?

Indeed. Frequent travellers no longer

want to worry about the uncertainties

of booking ground transfers in a

foreign city. What if a pre-booked

car doesn’t show up? Or they can’t

find the driver? Or they need to

make quick changes to their booking

because of flight delay? Frequent

travellers consequently want

peace of mind when travelling, and

traditional ground transfer providers

unfortunately are not equipped to

meet these demands.

What makes your product and

services different from other cloudbased


It is not so much about being the next

disruptive mobility technology that

sets us apart from competition. What

sets QUp apart is the execution at the

local level, in collaboration with our

legal and licensed fleet operators. Our

uniquely diversified business model

is better for drivers, passengers and

enterprises. With over 45 million

bookings processed, 3.1 million

travelers in 72 countries, our model

is proven. We are the 3.0 of Mobility

Tech. We are QUp. Together, we can

disrupt the disruptors


Stand of BeMyGuest at ITB Asia 2018

Co-located with ITB Asia 2020 and MICE Show Asia

2020, Travel Tech Asia 2020 will take place from 21

to 23 October 2020 at the Sands Expo & Convention


Travel Tech Asia will bring together a fresh set of buyer

participants, the Tech Buyers. These Tech Buyers are heads

of Distribution, Sales and Marketing, E-Commerce and IT

from Hotels, Travel Agencies, Airlines, Tours and Activities -

the key decision makers in evaluating and selecting the best

travel tech in the market that best fit the industry needs.

“In recent years, we have seen a remarkable development

in travel technology and the integral role it is playing for the

travel industry. Travel Tech Asia 2020 aims to provide the

community with a platform for in-depth discussions on how

technology can disrupt and transform the travel landscape,”

said Katrina Leung, Managing Director of Messe Berlin

(Singapore), the organiser of Travel Tech Asia 2020.

Conference speakers will share emerging technologies,

trends, ideas and applicable case studies that will set the

stage for new possibilities in travel. Innovations surrounding

e-commerce, internet of things in hospitality, transportation,

AI, VR and AR, big data and cloud, payment solutions and

revenue management and optimisation, will also be featured

at the show to showcase the possibilities in travel tech and

how it is set to revolutionise the industry.

Exhibitors at the show will include industries such as

artificial intelligence, booking, reservations and metasearch,

hotel tech, virtual reality and augmented reality, voice and

biometrics, data, personalisation and mobile marketing,

revenue management and optimisation and more. As

technologies continue to fuel record growth in the travel

industry, Travel Tech Asia 2020 will see new exhibitors

specifically catered for the travel tech industry

ITB ASIA NEWS • Wednesday 16 October 2019




Panorama of the city of Khiva,


© Doris Anthony


intangible culture

Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and

Tourism concludes national heritage






The inside of the Sheikh

Zayed Grand Mosque in

Abu Dhabi

The UNWTO Silk Road

project continues to bear

fruits, as an increasing

number of regions adhere,

and are assisted in

promotion of their tourist


M o s t r e c e n t l y, U N W T O

E x e c u t i v e D i r e c t o r Z h u

Shanzhong was one of the

main speakers at the opening

ceremony of the 4th Silk Road

International Cultural Expo

2019, a month-long event held

throughout the Gansu Province

of China.

A s p a r t o f t h e o p e n i n g

ceremony, a Letter of Intent

was signed between UNWTO

and the Gansu Provincial

Department of Culture and

Tourism, in which both parties

expressed their will to cooperate

c l o s e l y t o r a i s e t o u r i s m

skills and competencies,

increase tourism length-ofstay

and spending, and raise

international awareness of the

Gansu Province as a key Silk

Road destination.

Earlier this year, at ITB Berlin,

the Technical Cooperation

and Silk Road Department

Uzbekistan successfully hosted

two events: the 9 th UNWTO Silk

Road Ministers’ Meeting, and

the 8 th UNWTO Silk Road Tour

Operators’ Forum. During the

open debate, which counted

upon the input of 20 Silk Road

countries, important strategies

were discussed that will allow

UNWTO to plan activities

for the 2019-2020 period.

All of sustainable nature,

the proposed initiatives aim

towards making the historic Silk

Road routes the most important

transnational tourism route of

the 21st century.

A “ s t a n d - o u t ” I T B A s i a

exhibitor featured on the Silk

Road is Uzbekistan. Described

by the Telegraph newspaper as

the “most fascinating country

you’ve never been to”, this

central Asian nation is opening

up to the world, making entry

visa-free for visitors from 86

countries (including China) on

1 January 2020.

“Uzbekistan is mainly a Muslim

country, with world renowned

Shrines in Silk Road places

like Tashkent and Bukhara.

Samarkand is home to dozens

of magnificent tombs. Notable

figures like the emperor

Tamerlane, the astronomer

Ulughbek and Kusam Ibn

Abbas, the cousin of the Prophet

Muhammad, who brought Islam

to this land in the 7 th Century,

are all buried here,” explains

Bahruz Hamzaev, Strategy

Advisor to the State Committee

for Tourism Development of



One of the most culturally oriented destinations of ITB Asia

is certainly Abu Dhabi. The emirate’s Department of Culture

and Tourism has just concluded two national heritage

workshops, exploring how to best protect intangible culture

in line with UNESCO guidelines.

UNESCO plays a leading role in

promoting the world’s diverse

cultures and traditions and in

helping states to preserve and

enhance their cultural diversity

by taking steps and measures to

protect these cultures.

The two workshops, held

on 10 and 11 September at

Manarat Al Saadiyat, saw

strong participation from

government bodies and NGOs.

The first focused on Al-Sadu, the

traditional Bedouin technique of

weaving camel hair, goat fur and

sheep wool into fabric to create

blankets, carpets, pillows, tents

and to decorate camel saddles

and belts. Al-Sadu was placed

on UNESCO’s List of Intangible

Cultural Heritage in Need of

Urgent Safeguarding in 2011. It

is an important part of Emirati

heritage and was crucial to

the economic role of Emirati

women during the Bedouin

period. This traditional craft

is being preserved through

the cooperation of local

communities, who ensure

its survival with culturally

appropriate methods.

The second workshop was

dedicated to falconry, which is on

UNESCO’s Representative List of

the Intangible Cultural Heritage

of Humanity. Falconry is one of

the most important elements on

this UNESCO list because it unites

numerous cultures and peoples

around the world. This workshop

helped to raise awareness of

the importance of falconry, the

diversity of its practitioners and

its cultural place across global


Saeed Hamad Al Kaabi, Intangible

Heritage Director at DCT Abu

Dhabi said: “We are committed

to preserving the intangible

cultural heritage of the United

Arab Emirates, particularly

those practices included on

UNESCO’s Representative

List of the Intangible Cultural

Heritage of Humanity, which

has gained special significance

internationally. They are

invaluable components of our

shared culture and heritage, and

are a source of great national



ITB ASIA NEWS • Wednesday 16 October 2019



© Dezidor

European Culture Guide

– a valuable source – for

the first time at ITB Asia

Potemkin Steps





Odessa was once the

cultural and intellectual

centre of Ukraine, and

the majority of the

city’s most amazing

buildings come from

the pre-Soviet period.

Odessa is a special place in

the South of Ukraine, where

thanks to a combination of

more than 100 nationalities,

a one and only language,

t h e O d e s s a c u i s i n e

a n d a u n i q u e O d e s s a

h u m o u r w e r e f o r m e d .

The inhabitants of the city

affectionately call Odessa

“mother”, her guests - “a

pearl by the sea”.

The Department of Culture

and Tourism of Odessa

City Council is at ITB Asia

promoting the extraordinary

cultural aspects of this city.

The Council takes a direct

part in the organization and

undertaking of different

m a s s - c u l t u r a l e v e n t s ,

making major efforts to

increase the attractiveness

o f O d e s s a , t h r o u g h

promoting the city as a

tourist and business capital

of Ukraine both on national

and international levels.

The architecture of Odessa

appears to have more

of a Mediterranean or

French influence, giving it

a unique look and style.

T h e m o s t s p e c t a c u l a r

buildings cluster around the

Deribasovskaya pedestrian

street and Potemkin Steps.

Highlights include the

Opera house – the second

biggest opera in the world

after La Scala in Milan – and

the Potemkin Steps. Opened

in 1841, these 192 steps are

the peculiar entrance to the

city, the best recognised

symbol of Odessa. The

steps were designed to give

an optical illusion – when

one looks down from the

top, the stairs can’t be seen

but when one looks from

the bottom, all one sees is


In 2016, a programme

w a s l a u n c h e d b y t h e

local tourism authority to

increase the international

tourist flow by 2020, as

the city had previously

p r i m a r i l y c a t e r e d t o

domestic tourism. Odessa

is rapidly integrating into

the global tourism industry,

with the city offering all

the prerequisites for the

development of domestic

a n d f o r e i g n t o u r i s m :

geographic location, a

favourable climate, the

largest seaport of Ukraine,

r e s o r t a n d r e c r e a t i o n

complexes, social and

cultural infrastructure


“Where to go in Europe? The

European Culture Guide”, a brand of

SIMsKultur, is present at ITB Asia as

an excellent source of information

and inspiration both for tourism

professionals and for their end


With its rich, unique cultural heritage

and variety of cultural offerings,

Europe is a popular destination for

cultural tourists from all over the

world. Every seventh tourist comes to

Europe for cultural reasons. Cultural

trips to Europe have increased by

around 30%.

The European Culture Guide is the

information platform of European

cultural providers, presenting the

best cultural sites and events from

all over Europe. Festivals, museums,

opera houses and theatres, cultural

regions and UNESCO World Heritage

sites are presented at international

trade fairs as well as in print and

online media to a wide audience of

experts and visitors from all over the








The Global Code of Ethics for

Tourism of the UNWTO prescribes

the protection of natural, artistic,

archaeological and cultural heritage,

to allow traditional cultural products,

crafts and folklore to survive and

flourish, rather than causing them to

degenerate and become standardised.

“In the thousands of years chronicling

mankind’s progress, civilizations

have flourished and fallen, and in

their wake, left legacies bearing their

indelible mark in the history of the

world. These legacies showcase the

Brandenburg Gate

SIMsKultur has been successfully

present at the ITB Berlin for 8 years

with its cultural exchange and is

expanding its activities to Asia

this year for the first time. Travel

professionals are able to take

advantage of this opportunity to

learn more about culture in Europe

and to benefit from the high profit

rates of cultural tourism as well as

educational and study trips





World Tourism Organisation

pinnacle of mankind’s abilities, be

they in outstanding monuments

or in the uniqueness of paintings

and music. Heritage tells mankind’s

story. Tourism enlivens this

heritage” said Zurab Pololikashvili,

Secretary-General, World Tourism


ITB ASIA NEWS • Wednesday 16 October 2019




Changing the face

of Singapore…


An artist’s aerial view

of the Marina Bay

Sands Integrated Resort


L a s Ve g a s S a n d s h a s

embarked upon a US$3.3bn

expansion plan for Marina

Bay Sands in Singapore with

a spectacular new tower and

additional MICE space.

The agreement with the Singapore

government was announced in

April, for a project immediately

adjacent to the existing Marina

Bay Sands Integrated Resort (IR).

The key elements will be a stateof

the-art 15,000-seat arena, a

luxury hotel tower and additional

MICE space.

“Marina Bay Sands is an iconic

tourism destination that has

exceeded all of our hopes in

growing leisure and business

tourism in Singapore and it is a

privilege to receive the Singapore

government’s continued support

for its development,” said Las

Vegas Sands Chairman and

Chief Executive Officer Sheldon

G. Adelson. “The property has

achieved amazing success for

both Singapore and our company

and we plan to create even more

with this expansion.”

Since opening in 2010, Marina

Bay Sands has attracted more

than 330 million visitors. The

property has brought over 700

new MICE events to Singapore

since opening and hosted 3,680

events at the Sands Expo and

Convention Centre in 2018 alone.

The new 15,000-seat arena will,

says the Sands group in an official

statement, play a key role in

bringing new and repeat visitors

to Singapore.

The hotel tower, which will

feature approximately 1,000 allsuite

rooms will also include a sky

roof with a swimming pool and a

signature restaurant. The tower

will feature a dramatic atrium

and terraces along with exciting

food and beverage offerings and

a combination of meeting rooms,

ballrooms and exhibition halls.

“ N e w l u x u r y h o t e l

accommodations and a worldclass

entertainment venue are

exactly the catalysts we need

to drive additional visitation

to Singapore, and specifically

to Marina Bay Sands,” said

Rob Goldstein, the company’s

president and chief operating

officer. “The expansion of our

Singapore IR is a key component

of our company’s strategic growth

plan and also reflects the strong

tourism and business potential in



The Amara Singapore

at dusk

Renovation of Amara

Singapore gives

way to eco-friendly


While unveiling new Premium

Executive guest rooms,

Amara Singapore is also

launching new initiatives

to strengthen eco-friendly


In the heart of Tanjong Pagar,

close to the city’s Central Business

District, Amara Singapore is the

company’s flagship hotel with 384

guest rooms and suites as well as

onsite dining options, wellness

facilities and meeting spaces.

The hotel recently unveiled its 27

Premium Executive guest rooms

along with a refreshed gym and a

pool bar on level six. The rooms

mark the beginning of the hotel’s

rejuvenation project, in which the

remaining guest rooms and public

spaces in Amara Singapore will be

progressively refurbished.

Clean lines, natural timber flooring

and bespoke furniture reflect the

brand’s design ethos of timeless

aesthetics in the new rooms.

All rooms feature a movable desk

with lockable castors, providing

a mobile and flexible workspace

for the corporate traveller. The

large bathroom with white marble

finishes features a walk-in glass

shower enclosure with a rain

shower, vanity top, and ample

storage spaces.

The refurbishment was the

opportunity to implement ecofriendly

initiatives. All new guest

rooms offer guests refillable glass

water bottles in place of disposable

plastic bottles. Each guest room is

fitted with a full length glass window

that optimises natural daylight,

hence reducing the need to switch

on in-room lights in the day. The

new guest rooms are also equipped

with energy-efficient motion sensor

lights that switch off once the guests

leave the space.

With floor-to-ceiling glass panels

and ample floor space, the gym

offers guests a premium workout

experience. The 24-hour modern

wellness space is operated by

Aileron Wellness, Singapore’s first

knowledge-driven boutique gym.

The facility is also fitted out with

high performance equipment.

For Dawn Teo, Senior Vice President

of Amara Hotels and Resorts, it

is important to ensure that the

hotel is well equipped to exceed

the expectations of guests: “the

refurbishment is part of our vision

to continually evolve, and offer an

unforgettable stay experience”


ITB ASIA NEWS • Wednesday 16 October 2019




APAC attracts more travellers

from around the world

According to the UNWTO, Asia-Pacific recorded a 6% rise

in international tourism in 2018, a trend which continues in


In the first half of 2019, Asia–Pacific

continued to see strong tourism

growth, with a year-on-year rise of

6% over the previous half, according

to the September barometer of the

UNWTO. South Asia and Northeast

Asia reported 7% growth.

Confidence in global tourism performance

remains positive yet cautious and with signs of

moderate growth for the remainder of the year

according to the latest UNWTO Confidence


The World Tourism Organisation reported

6% growth for Asia and the Pacific in 2018,

reaching 343 million international tourist

arrivals, equivalent to 25% of the worldwide


Results in 2018 were driven by South-East Asia

(+7%) where most destinations posted strong

growth, particularly Vietnam, a rising star in

the region. China but also India stimulated total

arrivals to the region. Indonesia and Cambodia

enjoyed double-digit increases in arrivals while

Thailand and the Philippines also recorded

strong growth thanks to Chinese travellers.

International arrivals in North-East Asia

increased 6% last year, led by South Korea

which was rebounding from a weaker 2017.

Japan continues its stellar tourism performance

of the last six years by recording a growth rate

of almost 19%. The country is now the third

most visited destination in Asia.

Macao (China) and Hong Kong (China) also

reported solid results. Meanwhile, mainland

China, the region’s largest destination recorded

a 2% growth in the first three quarters of 2018.

The opening of the Hong-Kong- Zhuhai-Macau

Bridge in October 2018 is expected to enhance

connectivity and boost tourist flows between

the three cities of the Greater Bay Area.

South Asia (+5%) also enjoyed a strong year,

with Nepal profiting from higher inbound from

India, China and European source markets

thanks to a number of promotional campaigns.

Sri Lanka, India and the Maldives all reported

sound results

6.2% HIKE IN



Singapore attracted approximately 18.5

million visitors in 2018, according to the

Singapore Tourism Board. This number was

a rise of 6.2% over 2017, which was likely

due to an increase in arrivals from Asia, USA,

and the United Kingdom. Top three markets

included visitors from China, Indonesia,

and India, due to strong travel demand and

increased flight connectivity. Indian travel

also escalated due to new cruise offerings

from top cruise lines. Overall, 14 out of

Singapore’s top 15 markets were able to log

growth in 2018 and are expected to continue

doing so through 2019. Speaking monetarily,

increase of tourism receipts was largely due

to growth in entertainment, gaming and






Tourism Australia reports modest growth

for the first half of 2019, with y/y change

up to the end of July of 2.9%. 9.36 million

travellers entered the country in the first

seven months; a rise of 260,500. While on

the surface, the figures appear to be low, the

fact that the average stay in Australia is 32

nights gives the nation a major advantage

when it comes to earnings through tourism.

63% are return visitors, and on average,

visitors spend over AU$5,000, amounting to

a total of over AU$44bn.


Results among Asia’s top tourism earners

were solid, according to UNWTO. China

recorded a 30% increase up to September,

rebounding strongly from a decline in 2017

as a weaker Yuan has made the destination

more affordable. Japan and Macao also led

results with a 19% and a 16% increase in

tourism earnings respectively. Thailand

recorded an 8% increase, following several

years of double-digit figures.

ITB ASIA NEWS • Wednesday 16 October 2019



What about Kuching

– for combining arts,

culture, lifestyle – and


Traditional Thai food presented with flowers





T h a i l a n d wants t o

promote its regional

cuisine as a tool to open

new destinations for

tourists. Surprisingly,

a recent survey shows

that only 40% of tourists

know about Thai food.

Food has been a mantra

for Thailand with many

TV shows around the

world presenting Thai

culinary delights and

the Tourism Authority of

Thailand- the kingdom’s

tourism marketing agencysupporting

this passion

through festivals, agro

tourism or even by creating

stories around iconic dishes

such as Pad Thai.

But more needs to be done.

According to research from

the National Research

Council of Thailand (NRCT)

over gastronomic tourism in

Thailand and ways to explore

strategies for building a

competitive advantage, only

40 per cent of respondents

to a poll claimed they knew

Thai food and beverage

well. This means that there

is still 60% of travellers who

have little or no knowledge

of Thai cuisine.

The food-travel trend shows

no signs of slowing down

with tourists considering

food in Thailand as an

integral part of the local

culture. Now, authorities

and professionals believe

that gastronomy will open

new doors for tourism. The

key is to craft an immersive

experience that cannot be

found anywhere else and

story-telling strategies over

uniquely tasty Thai food.

During a recent forum

on the ‘Strategies for

Building a Competitive

Advantage of Gastronomic

Tourism in Thailand’ held

last September, famous

Thai Chefs expressed

their opinions over food.

For Chef Vichit Mukura,

formerly working at The

Oriental Bangkok Hotel,

four key elements prevail:

quality, price, uniqueness

and cleanliness. Chef Vichit

suggested a focus of ‘one

province, one dish’ from

individual cities to help

attract tourists to emerging

destinations and impress

them with memorable Thai

food flavours.

The idea of promoting

p r o v i n c e s t h r o u g h

gastronomic experience was

also shared by Ms. Lertlinin

Sippapak, owner of many

restaurants in Bangkok. She

encouraged the public and

private sectors to identity

Thai food that is unique on a

province by province basis


Kuching’s first ever month-long festival of the arts, culture and

lifestyle, “What About Kuching 2019”, running all of October, is a

tribute to the spirit of Sarawak. What better occasion to visit the


This vibrant city in the heart of

Borneo is renowned for its culture,

crafts and cuisine, where old world

splendour meets new world charm.

To celebrate this city’s abundant yet

distinct charm, the local community

has come together to present What

About Kuching 2019: a tribute to

the spirit of Kuching. And what

better way to appreciate a city than

through the eyes of a local? The

Festival’s mission is to showcase the

arts, culture and lifestyle to a global

audience thereby creating greater

appreciation and support of these

amongst the local community.

Kuching is famous for its food; in

particular its celebrated noodle

dishes, spicy Sarawak Laksa and

savoury Kolo Mee, as well as a wide

selection of Chinese, Malay and

Indian cuisine, exotic rainforest fruits,

crispy jungle ferns and wonderful

fresh seafood. Dining options range

from humble hawker stalls, through

waterside seafood restaurants at

Kampung Buntal and traditional

Orangutan in Semenggoh

Nature Reserve

Chinese delicacies at Siniawan Night

Market to opulent fine dining outlets

in 5-star hotels, and one can even

learn to cook Sarawak-style.

The city is not only the cultural heart

of Sarawak, but it’s also the ideal

base-point for numerous day tours.

Visitors can climb Mount Santubong

for a birds-eye view of the city and

the coastline, or take to the trails of

Kubah National Park to discover rare

and fascinating plant species and

idyllic jungle waterfalls. A stone’s

throw from Kuching, Semenggoh

Nature Reserve and its thriving

population of semi-wild orangutans

is a key attraction. One can also take

a boat to Bako National Park to view

the rare proboscis monkey, as well

as long-tailed macaque monkeys,

Bornean bearded pigs, colugos and

many colourful bird and reptile



Proboscis Monkey in

Bako National Park

ITB ASIA NEWS • Wednesday 16 October 2019






Gyeonggi prepares for busy years ahead

MICE events are a fast growing segment and the Gyeonggido

province is a key player in the North-East Asian market

with its close proximity to Seoul and its international

airport.The Korean province will be hosting some high

level events in the coming years.



T h e G y e o n g g i To u r i s m

Organization announced that it

successfully obtained the right

to host the World Universities

D e b a t i n g C h a m p i o n s h i p

2021, the world’s biggest

debating competition. The

World Universities Debating

Championship has a long history

of being the most prestigious

i n t e r n a t i o n a l d e b a t i n g

competition hosted in major

cities across the world since

it was first held in 1981. The

World Universities Debating


Gyeonggi Tourism Organization

will organize a variety of

additional events for the 9

days of the championship to

introduce Korea and Gyeonggido

to overseas university

students and contribute to the

revitalization of the area. The

World Universities Debating

Championship will be held from

27 December 2020 to 4 January

2021 in KINTEX in Goyang-si,


Suwon Convention Center




Since its opening in March 2019,

the Suwon Convention Center,

next to Gwanggyo Lake Park is

now the center of the Southern

Gyeonggi MICE business. The

Suwon Convention Center has

two basement levels and five

stories including a convention

hall, an exhibition hall, an

event hall, 28 meeting rooms,

a Cloud Garden, in an area of

50,0005sqm and a total floor

area of 97,602sqm. After the

opening of additional facilities

including a hotel (scheduled

to open in January 2020), a

department store (February

2 0 2 0 ) , a n d a n a q u a r i u m

(October 2020), the area around

Suwon Convention Center will

be reborn as a MICE complex

and position itself as a new

landmark. A new exhibition hall

and auditorium will be added.

The mayor of Suwon-si, Yeom

Tae-young, introduced the

vision for Suwon Convention

Center during the building

completion ceremony, saying

that he is going to make Suwon

Convention Center the one and

only “6-star” convention center

in Korea




More than 10,000 executives

o f g l o b a l h e a l t h f o o d

m a n u f a c t u r i n g c o m p a n y

USANA Health Science will

be heading to South Korea

from 6 to 10 May 2020. The

corporate meeting will be

jointly hosted by the Korea

Tourism Organization (KTO),

t h e G y e o n g g i To u r i s m

Organization and the Goyang

Convention Bureau. KINTEX,

the largest convention center

in South Korea, will be the main

venue for the event. The Utahbased

company will be holding


Corporate event, which will

include meetings to discuss

new product development

and to share their marketing

strategies. The participants

will be able to enjoy the

major attractions in Gyeonggi

Province, which consists of 31

cities and counties

KINTEX - the largest convention

centre in South Korea

ITB ASIA NEWS • Wednesday 16 October 2019





Meet Korea’s latest, most advanced

MICE complex

The new Suwon Convention Center boasts 70% occupancy in its first year, and will

host the 4 th Asia Pacific Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities

Korea is present at ITB Asia to promote the fabulous new Suwon

Convention Center (SCC), inaugurated as a MICE complex last


Located along a scenic lake that

won the Korea Landscape Awards,

while situated in the city center, SCC

is the perfect location to combine

work and a natural environment. In

addition, SCC boasts outstanding

accessibility. The convention

center is 30 minutes by subway

from Gangnam district, Seoul and

about an hour by limousine bus

from Incheon International Airport.

Korea was recently highlighted as

a key host nation for international

conferences (ranked first in 2016

and 2017 by UIA standards).

Suwon meanwhile is famous for

its rich cultural past, with two

UNESCO World Heritage sites, the

Suwon Hwaseong Fortress and the

Hwaseong Haenggung Palace. It

is also well known as being home

to many high-tech companies,

including Samsung Electronics.

With the opening of SCC, Suwon,

the city where tradition and cuttingedge

technology coexist, is aiming

to become a MICE hub.

In addition to the SCC, the

Courtyard by Marriott Hotel will

open in January 2020, the Galleria

Department Store in February

2020, the Hanwha Aquarium

and office buildings next year.

The administrative convergence

town and the legal town are also

under construction with the aim of

completion by 2020.

“We want to raise the standards

of the convention industry,” said

Yeom Tae-young, Mayor of Suwon.

With such strong support for

Suwon’s MICE events, the city

won the bid to host the 4th Forum

of Ministers and Environment

Authorities of Asia Pacific in 2020

following fierce competition with

eight other cities


Suwon Convention Center Facilities

The Suwon Convention Center, which

consists of five stories above ground and

two stories below ground, is optimized for

international conferences.

A total of 28 meeting rooms can be

integrated to facilitate break-out meetings

and the convention hall located on the

third floor can accommodate up to 3,000

people. The exhibition hall on the first floor

is 7,877sqm. The SCC is directly connected

to the Gwanggyo Lake Park, where visitors

can enjoy the scenic park.

SCC is built as a MICE complex district

with a hotel, a department store and

various entertainment facilities. The MICE

complex aims to offer a new concept of

one-stop MICE complex for shopping,

accommodations, and sightseeing

Gwanggyo Lake Park

Hwahongmun Gate

Banghwasuryujeong Pavilion

Hwaseong Royal Train

ITB ASIA NEWS • Wednesday 16 October 2019



Chinese tourists in Madrid Chinese tourist queue in front of a Hermes store in Paris



travel boom

Major new report released on

Chinese tourism in Europe

A big data report on Chinese

tourists traveling to Europe in

the first half of 2019 reveals

a 7.4% rise over 2018.

The China Outbound Tourism

Research Institute and Ctrip jointly

released the “Big Data Report on

Chinese Tourists to Europe in the

First Half of 2019.”

The report analyses the big data of

millions of vacation products on

Ctrip’s travel platform, combined

with that of more than 7,000 Ctrip

stores in major cities, along with

European travel data from the

Huacheng International Travel

Group, China’s leading outbound

travel operator.

According to data released by the

China Outbound Tourism Research

Institute, the number of Chinese

visitors to Europe in 2018 exceeded

6 million. With favourable policies

on visas, flights, exchange rates

and consumer services to Europe,

China’s travel to Europe will, says

the survey, continue to grow in

2019. In the first half of this year,

the number of outbound tourists

from China was expected to be

about 81.29 million, up 14% from

the previous year, with 3 million

trips to Europe, up 7.4%, according


According to Huacheng, the

number of people booking a trip to

Europe in the first half of 2019 grew

by 12.3% year-on-year. Ctrip travel

data shows that Europe is the

second most popular destination

for Chinese tourists, accounting

for 10%, second only to Asia.

In the first half of 2019, according

to Ctrip travel data, the top 10

“dark horse” destinations were

Croatia, Latvia, Slovenia, Bulgaria,

Estonia, Albania, Serbia, Malta,

Ireland and Denmark, with the

number of Chinese visitors to

Croatia up 540% year-on-year in

the first half. Andorra, Monaco

and the Transcaucasian countries,

Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan,

located in the heart of Eurasia,

are also becoming popular

destinations for Chinese tourists,

according to booking data.

The top ten popular source

cities are Shanghai, Beijing,

Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou,

Shenzhen, Kunming, Xi’an,

Nanjing and Wuhan, the top ten

black horse starting cities are

Guiyang, Shenyang, Qingdao,

H e f e i , Ta i y u a n , N a n n i n g ,

Hangzhou, Changchun, Dalian

and Nanchang; among them,

the number of Guiyang tourists

visiting Europe in the first half of

this year increased by 526% yearon-year.

In the first half of the year, a

number of new routes to Europe

were opened, with direct flights

from Shanghai to Budapest,

Shenzhen to Dublin and Rome,

Beijing to Oslo, Shenzhen and

Hangzhou to Rome, Guangzhou-

Urumqi-Vienna and other routes

to be opened, making it easier

for Chinese tourists to travel to


In the first half of 2019, according

to the analysis of the gender and

age of tourists, the proportion of

women visiting Europe was 62.9%

and the proportion of men was

37.1%. The total number of visitors

in their 50s and 60s exceeded 50%,

with 12.7% over 70 years of age.

The “new group tour” quality

tourism era is coming, with the

number of customised tours

to Europe increasing by 315%

year-on-year. The growth in the

number of private groups doubled,

with the average number of

participants being 3.2 people. The

number of people signing up for

private group tours in Europe has

been increasing year by year. Data










shows that the number of visitors

to Europe who signed up for

private group products increased

by 120% year-on-year, and the

number of private group visitors

to Europe accounted for 5% of the

total number of visitors to Europe.

In the first half of this year, the

top 10 cities from which travellers

were registering for private trips

to Europe were Shanghai, Beijing,

Guangzhou, Chongqing, Nanjing,

Wuhan, Hangzhou, Zhengzhou,

Xiamen and Suzhou, while the

top 10 popular destinations were

the United Kingdom, Russia,

Italy, France, Switzerland, Spain,

Greece, Iceland, Germany and the

Czech Republic

ITB ASIA NEWS • Wednesday 16 October 2019




Indian tourists in front

the Louvre museum, Paris

Southeast Asians

target Europe

as the “most

aspirational” longhaul





€51 BN IN 2020

The launch, on 15-17 April 2020, of the first ITB India by

Messe Berlin (Singapore) is very timely, as the nation has

very quickly become one of the biggest tourism markets

in the world.

The value of the Indian tourism

industry is expected to hit

€51 bn in 2020, according to

the UNWTO. The numbers

for outbound travellers could

well reach 50 million by

2020, which speaks to just

how robust the outbound

t o u r i s m m a r k e t i n I n d i a

will be. These 50 million

outbound travellers will need

all kinds of services, creating

many opportunities for National

Tourism Organisations, travel

and hospitality companies and

other service providers.

India is the second largest most

populous country in the world

with the tag of fastest-growing

major economy globally. Due to

this economic growth, its people

are earning more year on year

and their disposable income

is also growing. Air connectivity

from India to foreign locations

has also improved significantly

over recent years.

A c c o r d i n g t o, firsttime

Indian visitors generally

prefer to visit Asian countries

such as Thailand and Singapore,

due to their proximity. In the

case of long-haul travel Indians

prefer going to the United

States, Australia, Europe, and

New Zealand.

Business tourism is reported

to be a major driver. Research

indicates the number of business

tourists from India visiting

Japan, for example, is larger

than the number of holiday

tourists. Indian outbound

business tourism to China is

also showing a positive trend

and will continue to grow for

years to come. Thailand is

attracting huge numbers of

Indian tourists, because of its

affordability and proximity.

The United States is a prime

destination for Indian outbound

travellers on a global level.

More than a third of the total

worldwide expenditure by

Indian tourists takes place in

the United States, which is a

popular destination for all travel


Asian tourists in Lausanne

According to the “South-East Asian Outbound Travel

Market” report from the European Travel Commission (ETC),

the appeal of Europe as a travel destination is immense for

Southeast Asians.

The report provides an analysis

of potential visitors from

Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore

and Thailand to Europe. It

concludes that they love

Europe for its nature and scenic

landscapes, the diversity of its

cultural attractions and its good

weather conditions. Prestige for

visiting Europe is also part of

the motivation. The top themes

for travelling to Europe are

slow adventure, culture and

history, nature, city life and local


In 2017, the ETC indicates

that the four Southeast Asian

countries generated together

over 40 million outbound

departures, up from 33 million

in 2013. This represents an

average growth of 3.7% for

the period into consideration.

Outbound travel expenditures

rose from US$51 bn to US$53

bn. Malaysia was the largest

outbound market in travel

volume while Singaporeans

are spending the most when


While the bulk of all trips from

Southeast Asians are regional

(80% to 85%), 15% to 20% concern

long-haul travel, with Europe

having the largest share of all

long-haul trips, representing

between 50% and 60%. The trip

lasts between 10 and 21 days.

Favourite destinations for

Southeast Asians are the ones

considered prestigious “mustdos”.

These include France,

Germany or Italy. According to

ETC research, Southeast Asian

travellers to Europe are mainly

young couples and families but

solo travel is on the increase.

Multigenerational travel is

more common in Singapore

and Thailand, while group

travel is important in Indonesia

and Malaysia. Average age

for Southeast Asian travellers

fluctuate between 21 and 54

years old.

Three major issues are pointed

out by Southeast Asians:

insufficient air connectivity

out of Indonesia and Malaysia,

requirements to obtain a

Schengen visa for Indonesians

and Thais and high travel costs

in Europe.

ITB ASIA NEWS • Wednesday 16 October 2019

© JeCCo







Hipster, trendy and Art Deco:

Here is Tiong Bahru

The Tiong Bahru Streamline Moderne apartment buildings


Tiong Bahru Market

and Food Centre

The market was opened in 1951 and is considered

as one of the best hawker centres of Singapore with

some 15 food shops present in the market since the


> 30 Seng Poh Road Tiong Bahru Market #01-45.

Tiong Bahru Bakery

Impossible to come to Tiong Bahru without at least

taking a look. Located in Eng Hoon Street, the hipster

bakery is well known for its croissants… Prices are

matching the bakery’s reputation.

> 56 Eng Hoon St, #01-70

Tiong Bahru district

is a very special area

in Singapore with a

distinctive Art Deco


Not far from Chinatown,

Tiong Bahru made history in

the former British colony. The

area witnessed the creation

of the first integrated public

h o u s i n g e s t a t e s c h e m e

offering affordable apartments

with integrated shops.

This first public housing project

in Singapore came to be the

late 1920s as the Municipal

Commission empowered the

Singapore Improvement Trust

(SIT) to acquire and develop

land. Tiong Bahru, which was

covered only by farmlands

and Chinese cemeteries was

chosen by the SIT.

Tr a n s f o r m a t i o n s t a r t e d

with the construction of the

Singapore General Hospital

on Outram Road. Many

settlers decided then to live

in the vicinity of the hospital.

Sanitary problems were solved

by the SIT by clearing the land.

Nearby hills were cut down by

1930 and cemeteries moved.

In 1936, the first building of 28

apartments and 4 shops was

built. By 1941, Tiong Bahru

already had 784 flats which

then grew, after WWII to over

1,200 apartments.

Ti o n g B a h r u i s a v e r y

h o m o g e n o u s c o m m u n i t y

t o d a y w i t h o v e r 2 , 0 0 0

apartments, two dozens of

shops, a famous market, a

community centre and schools.

The unique style of the estate

makes it an attractive place to

visit. Most of the apartment

blocks were constructed in late

Art Deco architecture, called

“Streamline Moderne”. This

style is characterized by simple

curves, rounded corners and

geometric motives, similar

to railway stations or cruise


Over the years, trendy shops

and restaurants moved in,

murals adorn now some of the

buildings’ white facades.

On a visit, do not miss the

blocks at Tiong Bahru and

Seng Poh Roads. These areas

mix Streamline Moderne

architecture with typical

S i n g a p o r e a r c h i t e c t u r a l

elements such as passageways

running along each block. Eng

Hoon Street is characterised

by its rounded corner buildings

and curved balconies in red

bricks. Nowadays, this is the

street of chic eateries. Tiong

Poh Road Block 81 and 82

show the most spectacular

example of Streamline

Moderne architecture with

buildings looking like Zeppelin

airships or a luxury car.

ITB ASIA NEWS • Wednesday 16 October 2019

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