In recent years a series of crises has taken place, such
as the September 11 in the US in 2001, the Bali bombing incident in
Indonesia in 2002, SARS and the Iraq War in 2003, bird flu and the tsunami
in the Indian Ocean in 2004. All of them have certainly affected the growth
rate in the tourism industry and are still harming the development of
Lanka’s first quarter tourist arrival figures of 2005 were encouraging.
Rozanne Diasz, Miss Sri Lanka 2005 is competing in the Miss Universe contest
and will promote the beauty of her country.
However, due the great efforts of international
organizations and governments, active signs have been recorded as recent as
the PATA Annual Conference held in Macau in April 2005, where some of
Pacific Asia Travel Association member countries spread good news during
their press conferences.
Malraj B. Kiriella, marketing director of the Sri Lanka
Tourist Board, reported that the first quarter tourist arrival figures of
2005 to his country are very encouraging. Tourist arrivals for March 2005
show a 31 percent increase over the comparable period in 2003, with 50,418
visitors in March 2004. Arrivals from India show a 100 percent increase,
while tourist inflows from Singapore, Malaysia, China and Japan are also
showing positive increases. To sustain its highly successful post-tsunami
strategy, the Sri Lanka Tourist Board has established the www.bounce
Indonesia presented its new Minister of Culture and
Tourism, Jero Wacik, to announce that places such as Jogjakarta and Bali are
totally safe and representatives of the media should come by and see for
themselves. Disaster has hit Aceh in Sumatra and the Island of Nias. There
will be tremors and after-shakes, but in spite of that Indonesia will target
6 million tourists in 2005.
The Hong Kong Tourism Board held a media briefing to
provide an overview of the strategic direction of the upcoming 2006 Discover
Hong Kong Year. Executive Director Clara Chong revealed that the campaign
would bring total arrivals in 2006 to a new record by reaching more than 27
million visitors. With several new infrastructure projects, such as the
cable car to Lantau Island, 2006 presents a golden opportunity making Hong
Kong the must-visit destination on any China itinerary.
Dr. Abdulla Mausoom, Director of the Maldives Tourism
Promotion Board, assured the media that the chain of 1190 coral islands
scattered across the Indian Ocean did not suffer from the tsunami at all.
Bangkok Airways plans to fly there from its Bangkok hub and it remains to be
seen if visitor arrival trends from Thailand will surge. The Maldives has a
population of 270.000 people, occupying only around 200 islands. Male
International Airport is located on an island of its own, which is for the
exclusive usage of the airport and only a short boat ride from the capital.
Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Phornsiri Manoharn,
deputy governor for international marketing, explained that 2004 was a good
year for Thai tourism, even though the final week of the year was impacted
by the tsunami. Thailand has set a target of welcoming more than 13 million
visitors by the end of 2005. Inspired by that, the basis for all the
upcoming activities is the “Happiness on Earth” campaign.
The message seems simple – come to Thailand and be
happy. Furthermore, on May 30, 2005 Thailand will host the Miss Universe
Pageant in Bangkok (at least one of the young ladies will be happy!).
For the troubled South, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra has pledged that all the beach areas affected by the December 26
tsunami will be rebuilt in accordance with the strict principles of
sustainable development. Thailand’s newly appointed Minister of Tourism
and Sports, Somsak Thepsuthin, will revive the tourism industry in the six
affected provinces accordingly.
In Vietnam, tourism is considered as a spearhead economic
sector, and the authorities at all levels have realized the important role
of tourism. Nguyen Huu Tho, Vice Chairman PATA Vietnam Chapter revealed that
in 2004 there were nearly 3 million international visitors - up 20 percent
compared to 2003. By 2010, Vietnam intends to double that number to six
million international visitors.
The Director of Tourism Marketing of the Nepal Tourism
Board, Nandini Lahe-Thapa, promoted the recently launched new tourism
products in the areas of Mount Everest, the highest mountain on earth, and
Lumbini – the Buddha’s birthplace. Travel information on Nepal can be
easily obtained on the www.welcomenepal.com web-site. Phuket Air is planning
to connect Katmandu with Bangkok. If there were direct flights from Chiang
Mai to Katmandu, Nepal would gain even more popularity to be the Center of
Adventure and Eco-tourism as well as Gateway to Tibet.
Surprisingly, Tourism Malaysia did not hold a press briefing, but its
Tourism Minister Dr. Leo Michael Toyad attended the conference in style,
commanding a special booth to advertise the next big event of the travel
industry, namely the PATA Travel Mart in Kuala Lumpur on September 27-30,