Round Up of News for January 9 to 14, 2019

ASEAN, news

All the news regarding major tourism developments between January 9 and 14, 2019.


ASEAN most important tourism event the ATF (ASEAN Travel Forum) officially started on January 14. The 38th edition opened its doors in Halong City in Northern Vietnam with official meetings of ASEAN ministries of tourism, NTOs as well as airlines, hotels and travel agencies associations. Over 100 official functions will be organized while the TRAVEX, the trade mark will be hosted during three days from 16 to 18 January.

A1,500 delegates are expected to participate with 400 delegates being hosted complimentary of Vietnam. Buyers and media come from 53 countries from all over the world, including Africa for example. Most of the events will take place in the brand new Quang Ninh Exhibition of Planning and Expo Center (QNEPEC) with some 10,000 one-to-one appointments taking place between exhibiting companies and buyers. The ASEAN Tourism Conference will have a cultural background with the theme ‘Connecting Heritages for ASEAN Tourism Development in the Digital Age’.


Silat, a traditional martial art in the Malay world could become a new attraction for tourists to visit the Sultanate of Brunei on Borneo Island. Talking to local newspaper Borneo Bulletin, local Silat master Maul Mornie sees the martial art as a niche market for tourism, providing visitor with information about the skills and technics of Silat but also about its importance in Malay traditional culture, Brunei included. Silat promotion would be developed as part of Brunei Tourism agency’s efforts to develop new products for the Sultanate. Maul was talking to the newspaper on the final day of the 2nd International Brunei Martial Arts Culture Training Bootcamp organised by the International Association of Silat Suffian that attracted 55 participants from 16 countries.


China is playing increasingly a pivotal role in tourism development with some ASEAN countries such as Cambodia putting their tourism development more and more into Chinese hands. From a total of 6.2 million international arrivals in 2018 to Cambodia, Chinese alone generated 1.6 million of them. No surprise that Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen declared 2019 as the year of cultural and tourism exchange between Cambodia and China. A perfect opportunity as 2019 marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between both countries. Laos is now putting all its hopes into China as international arrivals have remained stagnant for a couple of years. The government is ready to launch its “Laos-China Year 2019” with new flights being launched during the year. More details are likely to come out during the ASEAN Travel Forum, which is officially starting on January 16.


Passengers traffic at Cambodian three international airports passed for the first time the 10-million passengers mark in 2018, just a year after passing for the first time the 8-million passengers’ mark. Eric Delobel, CEO Cambodia Airports, an affiliate of VINCI Airports, declared that “connectivity and synergies between the three airports have significantly contributed to bringing in more and more passengers. Traffic doubled over the last 5 years and reached this record-high 10 million passengers. The business model that VINCI Airports has developed for Cambodia’s airport system has proved relevant and I am confident that it will guide us for future successes.” VINCI believes that Cambodian three airports can accommodate the future traffic for the next 10/15 years. However Cambodia PM Hun Sen expressed its impatience to see larger airports being developed and has already confirmed the attribution of three new airports to Chinese companies for a traffic expected to reach 25 million passengers per annum by 2025.


Lion Air and affiliate Wings Air started to charge fees for luggage, putting an end to the airlines, policy of providing 10 or 20 kg free of charge. Under the new rules, each passenger is allowed to bring one piece of cabin baggage weighing a maximum of 7 kg. Passengers can by a pre-paid baggage fee for 5 kg, 10 kg, 15 kg up to 20 kg. Thai Lion Air introduced similar measures in January on all domestic and international flights from and to Thailand.

Santika Indonesia Hotels and Resorts launched at the end of last year its newest brand named Kampi. The brand is targeting particularly domestic millennials. The hotels are ranked three-star offering contemporary style and integrate F&B outlets as well as meeting rooms. The first property with 196 guest rooms opened in Surabaya. Santika plans to open new properties in Indonesia large cities in the near future. Santika Indonesia Hotels & Resorts has a portfolio of seven brands representing a total of 110 hotels.


Boracay is again linked to more international destinations with AirAsia. The low cost carrier announced to fly from March 2 from Macau to Kalibo airport, which is the closest to Boracay Island. Flights will be offered on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. AirAsia links also Kalibo to Manila twice a day. Meanwhile Philippines Department of Tourism confirmed that 305 commercial accommodation -including hotels- have been accredited in Boracay, representing a total of 10,515 rooms.

Last week brought a serious setback to Indonesia ride-hailing company Go-Jek which has seen its application to run a business being turned off by the Philippines. The application for Go-Jek to run a business in the country was rejected by the Philippine Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) because of a local regulation on corporate ownership which requires Philippine individuals or entities to own 60 percent of a new transport network company. Velox Technology Philippines is reportedly 99.99 percent owned by Singaporean investors.


Thailand is to host its annual event Thailand Tourism Festival (TTF), a consumers’ event which is aiming to highlight the 77 provinces of Thailand. The colourful event takes place inside Lumpini Park, which is reshaped into five villages areas representing a different region of Thailand. This year, TTF will also host a ‘Reduce-Reuse-Recycle’ waste initiative zone to help raise awareness and promote responsible sustainable tourism through various activities and games. According to TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn, “each ‘tourism village’ zone will not only foster green travel but also encourage visitors and Thai nationals to boldly step out and travel beyond traditional destinations and experience Thailand from a new perspective and point of view.” TTF will be hosted from January 23 to 27.


Bamboo Airlines, Vietnam newest scheduled carrier, unveiled its strategy a couple of days ago. The airline is starting flying on January 16, announcing to fly initially on 37 domestic routes. Hanoi is the main hub for the airline which flies to seven destinations (Buon Ma Thuot, Danang, Dong Hoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc, Quy Nhon) while three destinations will be served out of Ho Chi Minh City (Danang, Hanoi and Quy Nhon). The carrier is looking to expand internationally to Asia with Korea, Japan and Singapore being likely to be the first countries to be served by Bamboo Airways. Flights will be sold from VND149,000, equivalent to US6.50. The airline will use 20 leased aircraft to start its operation.

Khanh Hoa Province is to host Vietnam Visit Year 2019. The province is well known from foreign tourists for the popular resort city of Nha Trang as well as 180 km of pristine coast line. Popularity is also rising due to a larger number of international scheduled flights at Cam Ranh-Nha Trang International Airport. The Visit Year theme is resolving around “Nha Trang-Khanh Hoa Sea Festival” according to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Among the planned activities are the sea festival week, a beer festival, Miss Universe pageant and Hong Kong-Nha Trang yatch race. Nha Trang information website will also be upgraded. The province eyes to welcome 8.5 million tourists, including 3.5 million foreigners by 2020, and earn close to US$3 billion 2in tourism revenue. From January to September 2018, Khanh Hoa registered 5 million tourists, including 1.7 million foreign guests.


AirAsia is performing the maintenance of its website and its mobile app systems from January 19 2pm (GMT+8) until January 20, 3am (GMT+8). During the maintenance period, guests of AirAsia will not be able to book or make changes to flights, to pre-book add-ons such a meals or checked baggage, to perform self check-in or to have access to BIG member accounts. The airline advices passengers to care about all these services prior to the temporary suspension or to come early at airports for check-in at counters.