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Asian Travel Forum Part 3

Asian Travel Forum Part 3

Counting on eco-tourism - the seller’s perspective

Reinhard Hohler

During ATF 2004 in Vientiane, this year’s travel exchange (TRAVEX) took place at the newly built Lao International Trade Exhibition and Convention Center (Lao-ITECC).

This was a trade-only mart designed to offer opportunities for suppliers of ASEAN travel products to meet carefully selected buyers from around the world during special appointment sessions. It was also an ideal platform for buyers to gather the latest information on newly developed tourism products and services, establish promising business contacts and know about tourism trends in the ASEAN region.

Filipina Miss Adel heading the Cambodian Culture Village project team.

Lao-ITECC has an exhibition area of about 10,000 sq m and meeting facilities for up to 2000 delegates. In addition, Lao-ITECC can provide more than 20,000 sq m space for outdoor exhibitions or be used as a car park for up to 1,000 cars. At a cost of 7.5 million USD, it is an investment of the Lao World Group Company run by prominent Thai businessman, Peter Chan. After ATF 2004, the venue will become an entertainment complex that includes restaurants, retail outlets, a bowling alley and a cinema.

Vietnamese Miss Thu Trang representing Siem Reap Airways, now flying to Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City.

For ATF 2004, a total of 467 booths were registered for TRAVEX including booths from all the provinces of Laos and a reserved area for handicraft shops. 258 booths were taken by hotels and resorts, 83 by tour operators and 17 by airlines. Thailand had the largest number of booths with 91, followed by Lao PDR with 72, Malaysia with 55 and Indonesia with 52.

Sellers outnumbered the buyers by 4 to 1, with only 264 registered buyers attending. Interesting to note that Germany was the leading country with 24 buyers, closely followed by Singapore with 23, United Kingdom with 19 and USA with 18. On the top agenda were eco-tourism products and sellers who were banking on this emerging trend, were in high demand.

Anne Held from Sydney offering her 300 partners online to meet your accommodation needs in Indo China.

By country and corporate grouping, the following companies are worth mentioning. Sunshine Borneo Tours and Travel, who is the only licensed travel agent specializing on inbound tourism in Brunei and who sell green packages for the whole of Borneo. In Cambodia, there is the new established Cambodian Cultural Village some kilometers northwest of Siem Reap, where 11 unique communities represent a different ethnic heritage. Tourists can see the traditional Apsara dance performance and witness a typical Khmer wedding ceremony. Ben Bala, marketing director of Cambodiana Hotel in Phnom Penh, ascertained that tourism in Cambodia is surging ahead. Siem Reap Airways flies now even to Ho Chi Minh City and Bangkok.

Bali is still the top destination in Indonesia. There were representatives from Alila Hotels and Resorts, Grand Mirage Resort, Melia Benoa Resort, Pansea, and Santika Beach Hotel. Bintan is another emerging island for holidays, being reached in two hours by ferry from Singapore, where Patrick Lee advertises the Bintan Resorts.

Interesting to know is that Laos has now both Lao Hotels and Restaurants Association (LHRA) and Lao Association of Travel Agencies (LATA). There is also a new Mekong Hotels Association (MHA) with 300 partners online to meet your accommodation needs, supervised by Anne Held from Sydney. Emerging tour agencies offering trekking, biking and rafting are Lao Youth Travel, managed by Vilay Phiahouaphanh from Vientiane, and Tiger Trail in Luang Prabang, managed by German Markus Peschke, who is steadily establishing an Elephant Camp and Resort in the scenic Mae Khan valley.

If you look for nice accommodation in Luang Prabang, there are the Dutch managed Grand Luang Prabang Hotel with a breathtaking view of the Mekong River, and Pansea Phou Vao, managed by French Nicolas Pillet. Furthermore, the centrally located hotel Souvannaphoum will shortly be taken over by Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts from Singapore. The outstanding new product of Malaysia is Menara Kuala Lumpur or KL Tower, offering the highest viewing points of the city and elegant private function floors for the incentive market. Also recommended are the Mutiara Hotels & Resorts, Quality City Centre in KL, and Sunway Lagoon in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

In Yangon/Myanmar, there is the up-scale Kandawgyi Palace Hotel near the world famous Shwedagon Pagoda or to Sedona Hotel on the way to the airport. Sunbird Tour, managed by Austrian Werner Rumpf, will take care of your travel needs.

If you are in Singapore, try to use the services of RMG Tours and stay in the Novotel Apollo/ACCOR Hotels. Thailand has many recommended hotel chains, such as Amari Hotels and Resorts, Amora-Rydges, Anantara Resorts and Spas, Aprime Hotels and Resorts, Central Hotels and Resorts, and Sofitel/ACCOR Hotels.

Swiss Heinrich Stocker is GM of the Rembrandt, one of Bangkok’s best business hotels. Peter Wiesner, vice-president of Bangkok Airways, is still banking on the Mekong Heritage Project, while the balance of rivalry between Diethelm Travel and Asian Trails as tour operators in Bangkok is still undecided.

In the Philippines, contact Blue Horizons Travel and Tours, offering diving, and Vietnam has, besides the long established tour companies of Saigon Tourist and Vietnam Tourism-Hanoi, a few new players in Vidotour Indochina Travel and Vietravel, being one of the most reliable incoming travel companies in Vietnam. Besides the most luxurious Furama Resort Danang, managed by German Paul Stoll, you can also find the sophisticated Sunrise Beach Resort in Nha Trang, managed by Patrick Fernandez. Finally, Victoria Hotels and Resorts have dramatically expanded with their prestigious properties into Angkor.

For further information, please contact GMS Media travel Consultant Reinhard Hohler by e-mail [email protected]