Roger Haumueller, Managing Director Asia Exotica : “Latin America is one of the fastest growing markets in Southeast Asia”
Asia Exotica started over a year ago as an inbound tour operator specialized in accommodating the Spanish-speaking market- particularly Latin America.
According to Asia Exotica Managing Director Roger Haumueller, this segment offers huge potential to grow thanks to excellent connectivity from Gulf carriers.
Why did Asia Exotica look at the Latin market?
Roger Haumueller- Southeast Asia is a brand new destination for Latin-American and in a way for Spanish/Portuguese travellers. It is a doublee-digit growing market which has its own specificities. They request a very high personalized service adressing their specificities, especially by requesting spanish-speaking support. We also need to provide them with a telephone assistance on a 24-hour basis, also I must say that few of them will really use it. We are glad that we decided to specialise ourselves in the Portuguese/Spanish-speaking markets as there was a real need for a specialist for Southeast Asia.
What are the most popular destinations?
R.H.- Thailand remains the number one for many countries. For Spain for example, it is the number one destination in Asia. For Mexican, Brazilian, Argentinian and Chilean travellers coming for the first time, Thailand remains the most demanded destination as Bangkok remains a gateway to the region.
Many will spend three nights in Bangkok before flyint to Angkor Wat, Vietnam or Indonesia, where travellers want mostly to go to Bali and Yogyakarta. Singapore and Kuala Lumpur are also two other popular city destinations. We now see growing interest for Vietnam and particularly for Myanmar. Emirates new flight to Yangon will certainly further stimulate visits to Burma in the coming months.
Why is this market suddenly growing so rapidly?
R.H.- Well, this is mostly due to the dynamism of Middle-East carriers. The launching of non-stop flights from South America to the Middle East with onwards connections to ASEAN countries is stimulating the market as it cuts considerably travel times. Emirates, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines already land in a couple of Latin-American destinations while they continue building their network in Southeast Asia. For example, such as Turkish Airlines which is launching new flights to Vietnam or Emirates to Yangon in Myanmar. Gulf carriers succeeded to lure FIT markets of Central and South America into ASEAN. After Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, we now think that there is a growing interest from Colombia thanks to Turkish Airlines.
What are the activities that Latin American travellers are looking for in the region?
R.H.- Shopping stands very high in the agenda of Latin Americans. But honeymoon trips are also very popular for the category of the 25/35 years old. We see in fact a wide range of ages, from 25 to almost 90 years old. Spa and wellness, cultural activities are also popular. Generally, South Americans are big spenders as they will spend 20 to 25 days and mostly favour top luxury hotels in the countries they are visiting. Luxury and exclusive high-profile products are very much in demand as they are generally cheaper than in their own country.