1 year ago

ITB Asia News 2019 Day 1 Edition

  • Text
  • Tourism
  • Mice
  • Singapore
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  • Cultural
  • October
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14 EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW 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 SRI LANKA EXPERIENCED A STEADY GROWTH OF NEARLY FIVE TIMES OVER THE LAST DECADE FROM 450,000 TO 2.5 MILLION TOURIST ARRIVALS. 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 2019? 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.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 Asia? 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

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW 15 THERE IS A SHIFTING TREND IN WHICH TRAVELLERS ARE SEEKING NEW PLACES TO TRAVEL, PROPAGATED BY SOCIAL MEDIA Katrina Leung Managing Director of Messe Berlin (Singapore) 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 interest. So MICE takes a front seat this year… Can you tell us more about that? 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.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 perspectives. 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 time. 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