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ITB Asia News 2019 Review Edition

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6 NEWS KENYA WANTS TO BECOME A CRUISE TOURISM DESTINATION So Mara Secretary of State, Cambodia Ministry of Tourism Secondary cities to relieve Cambodia’s iconic destinations from overcrowding Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala speaking at the launch of the new development of the cruise ship terminal. Kenya wants to get a piece of the cruise tourism pie according to Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Tourism & Wildlife, Najib Balala. With 80% of all tourist arrivals concentrated in just three destinations – Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville along the Coast, the Ministry of Tourism is looking at promoting secondary destinations to better spread tourist movements across the Kingdom. “It is a necessity as we also would like to spread tourism benefits to more destinations in Cambodia,” tells So Mara, Cambodia Secretary of State at the Ministry of Tourism. Selected destinations are Battambang, Kampot and Kratie. The three cities will be at the centre of a new promotion campaign by the Ministry of Tourism to highlight their unique appeal thanks to their colonial and historical heritage. A comprehensive rehabilitation and promotion plan has been drawn by Cambodia Minister of Tourism in cooperation with the French Development Agency (Agence Française de Développement, AFD). Due to their historic Khmer and French colonial buildings, the three provincial capitals are being considered to attract visitors by being promoted as second-tier destinations. Just in Battambang, the AFD and the Ministry list some 800 buildings offering a historical interest. The smaller city of Kampot has some 300 historical structures while Kratie has a bit less but is worth a visit as it is the only historical town to be located along the Mekong River. The AFD intends to help with the maintenance, repair and preservation of the towns’ old buildings and turn them into “inclusive” tourist cities, with all development activities set to be carried out with the consideration of the residents’ rights and benefits. “Promoting secondary destinations is easier than ever as infrastructures are developing quickly. We have for example better roads but we also revived our train network. Travelling by train is still in its infancy but we feel confident that it will increasingly be a reliable and sustainable way to travel across the country,’ adds So Mara. “We hope that through the initiative, Cambodia will be able to build and strengthen its tourism sector to the next level,” hopes the Secretary of State At a recent tourism event in Nairobi, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Tourism & Wildlife Najib Balala indicated that Kenya wants to tap into the tourism market. “Cruise tourism is growing globally and Kenya wants to be part of it,” he indicated. According to the State Secretary, over 76 million of travellers are going on a cruise every year but so far, sub-Saharan Africa has been excluded from the cruise business. The Kenyan government is consequently investing into cruise facilities. A new cruise terminal in Mombasa is due to open its doors before the end of the year. The project started in 2016 and represents a total investment of 3.4 million US dollars. Mombasa already receives a few cruise ships every year but numbers remain tiny with less than 5,000 arrivals. Mombasa is a stop-over generally on a route linking Zanzibar to the Seychelles. Najib Balala said that there is a strong potential to develop cruise tourism along the east coast of Africa towards the Indian Ocean. This includes Capetown and Durban in South Africa, Madagascar, Maputo and Beira in Mozambique, Zanzibar in Tanzania, the Seychelles, Mauritius and finally Mombasa. “We need not only to have Mombasa working well but also Zanzibar or Durban to be sure that safety and good standards are available for cruise liners,” highlighted the Secretary of Tourism and Wildlife. The new Mombasa cruise terminal will be a game changer to the local tourism industry as it will help attract more international tourists to the country. According to Najib Balal, Mombasa could in the future attract as many as 140,000 tourists per year as highlighted by a report of the Kenya Ports Authority about cruise tourism potential. The study was released in 2015 by Tourism and Transport Consult International ITB ASIA NEWS • Monday 28 October 2019

NEWS 7 Finland promotes happiness at ITB Asia 2019 National tourism authority Visit Finland invited ITB Asia visitors to find out the secret behind being the happiest country in the world and to explore the country’s all year round offering, either on a stopover or a longer stay. Tin Aung during a presentation to tour operators Automated technology with personalisation key to competing with OTAs For traditional travel agents and tour operators, providing travellers with premium, personalised service remains the best way to compete with big online enterprises. Tin Aung, CEO of Sugati Travel believes exceptional service alone is no longer enough but into digital transformation. According to STR’s 2019 Traveller Panel survey the top reasons travellers choose to book through an OTA instead of through a traditional travel agent or tour operator, are convenience, access to discounts and promotions, and the ability to compare deals. OTAs growing foothold over the market is in large part due to the increase in mobile bookings. Mobile bookings made up 39% of OTA sales, compared with only 10% for other suppliers and agents, while 80% of all last-minute bookings are made from a mobile. However, excellent customer service experiences and word of mouth recommendations are where smaller competitors can win the war. How can travel agencies and tour operators compete with such large scale online companies? According to Tin Aung, the answer lies in online technologies. Accessible anywhere, anytime, a secure cloud based solution can add value, give better insights into business, and help gain efficiencies. The right technology can not only help travel businesses compete with big players, but also win the loyalty of their customers, build their brand, and grow their revenue. The key to a successful digital transformation is automation. This requires a sleek, holistic technology solution that reduces the need for multiple systems. An end to end solution is the best way to simplify your processes and cut out unnecessary actions. Technology should help generate and assign leads, respond to enquiries, quickly build itineraries, handle customer bookings, manage your suppliers and inventory, organise your payments, and report back to your team on everything. The real time-saving efficiencies for travel agents and tour operators using systems like Sugati, lie then in the creation of branded, personalised itineraries For the second year in a row, Finland has been named the happiest country in the world, according to the World 2019 Happiness Report. Finns mainly attribute their happiness to their close connection with nature. The country’s many lakes, rivers and extensive forests provide pure ingredients and places for relaxation, and all this can be enjoyed by both locals and travelers alike. Finland offers an alternative to crowded travel destinations, and seeks to nurture, conserve and preserve its natural environment, as well as the Finnish culture and lifestyle for years to come. How to sell then the happiness concept to Asians? “We just want to convey to Asian people a simple message: come to Finland, slow down and reconnect with nature with us. They will see the big difference of our lifestyle with the hectic pace of their life here in Asia,” said Sari Hey, PR & Media Manager Asia and Australia for Visit Finland during ITB Finland has been named the happiest country in the world Asia. “I am confident that Asian travellers will then understand why we feel happy,” she adds. A campaign called “Rent a Finn” is an original response to the need of resourcing for travellers looking for authenticity, local experience and the search of serene nature. Finland proposed during the year the possibility for visitors to meet and live with Finns and to discover Finnish nature with a local guide. “The program will be finished by year end and will be reviewed in a different way,” says Sari Hey. Finland is turning increasingly popular for Asian travellers. During the first eight months, Asian arrivals grew by 10% to reach 780,500 nights. The fastest growing market in Southeast Asia was Malaysia, up by 76%, followed by Thailand, up by 26% © Lauri Rotko ITB ASIA NEWS • Monday 28 October 2019