Making ASEAN travel accessible

BANGKOK, 26 June 2019: ASEAN’s tourism objectives filtered through during last week’s high powered ASEAN summit in Bangkok with a call for renewed commitment to pursue sustainable, inclusive and balanced tourism development.

That was the key takeaway as far as tourism was concerned according to comments made by the ASEAN Tourism Association president, Mingkwan Metmowlee, in an interview with Thailand Today last weekend.

She posted some of her comments on her Facebook page noting ASEAN leaders had set 2025 as the year the 10-member countries would be recognised globally for its “quality tourism” and marketed as a single destination.

Photo Credits: Thailand Today

But that has turned out to be a difficult challenge as marketing funds are insufficient to promote the vast region and member countries prefer to spend heavily on their national campaigns.

In the interview, Mingkwan emphasised a campaign that might unite them. A regional initiative to improve services associated with accessibility. That appears to have gained the attention of all member countries, although she suggested Thailand may have to play catch up on extending accessibility to core transport systems.

“Accessible Tourism “ is one of the major issues that is being addressed by the global tourism industry… but we have to intensify efforts and encourage the Thai government to do more to support this issue.”

Mingkwan who represents an association that has pioneered regional promotions to encourage travellers to visit more than one ASEAN nation confirmed ASEANTA has launched a campaign “ASEAN Plus ASEAN” that offers 30% discounts on holiday itineraries using participating airlines.

Photo Credits: Thailand Today

ASEANTA wants to build the foundation that would promote stays of up to 12 nights in the region.

The target at 20 to 30% growth is overly ambitious when comparisons are made with previous bids to launch multiple destination trips.

Even increasing multiple package tours of two or more ASEAN destinations by 10% would be a great improvement on today’s performance.

The trend in ASEAN leans to frequent short trips using direct flights and staying in one destination.  But for long-haul European markets, there is potential for multiple package tours of two or more ASEAN destinations if flight connections improve.

ASEANTA believes that through its connections with 25 travel associations in the region there is the framework to make the campaign successful when it launches this August.

The core objective is to cut the travel cost of multiple destinations tours by 30%.

The figure is based on visiting three ASEAN countries with an average of two nights per country for ASEAN residents and four nights per destination for European travellers.

Airlines such as AirAsia, Malaysia Airlines and Philippine Airlines have already signalled they will support the campaign.  

The two-year project has lofty targets one of them suggesting it will stimulate travel possibly by 20 to 30% from ASEAN countries and increase tours by 10 to 15% from long haul markets such as Europe

Measuring new business that can be directly attributed to the campaign will be difficult, but ASEANTA could start by reporting quarterly the booking pickup for the campaign’s highlighted tours.

Past efforts delivered dismal results in the hundreds rather than thousands. The results were not readily published until some years had passed.  This time round ASEANTA should provide quarterly results and tweak the campaign to deliver success if it falls short of its original targets.