I’VE just returned from ATE in Perth, where it is clear that both the Australian public and private sectors are taking big strides towards growth aspirations as part of the country’s Tourism 2020 strategy.
2020 will indeed be the year to watch, with several destinations in this region gearing up to position themselves as veritable playgrounds for quality visitors.
In Malaysia, tourism has been identified as a key driver of transforming the country into a high-income nation by 2020. To grow arrivals and receipts, the creation of more luxury products such as upscale accommodation and international festivals is being encouraged.
Singapore, too, has unveiled Tourism Compass 2020, which will see it focusing on four broad areas: sustaining a pipeline of original tourism experiences, rejuvenating existing products, upgrading the industry’s capabilities and harnessing the collective energies of Asia.
Which destination will emerge as the front runner?
Granted, it may not exactly be a fair comparison, but Asian countries could take a leaf out of Australia’s book. As part of its 2020 analysis, the Australian government found that an additional 56,000-152,000 jobs will need to be filled; 40,000-70,000 new rooms are required; aviation capacity needs to grow by 40-50 per cent and 23-30 per cent for international and domestic routes respectively; and only a third of the country’s tourism operators have online booking and payment facilities. As such, it has drawn up an action plan to address each of these gaps.
Tourism Australia has also launched country-specific 2020 plans for the two biggest outbound markets in Asia – China and India. How many Asian destinations have a 2020 strategy, much less a comprehensive one for key visitor sources that includes developing an online tool for tourism operators to take online bookings and payments?
While NTOs often paint pictures of what tourism outcomes in 2020 will look like, it is just as important that they flesh out how they intend for the trade to get there.
Travel experts would also do well to chart their own 2020 roadmap. Where do you see yourself at the end of the decade?
As the trend shifts from destination-based to experience-based travel, the future market for travel consultants is likely to be about niches and specialisation, according to Amadeus’ Travel Gold Rush 2020 report. Among its recommendations was for travel professionals to become ‘lifestyle managers’, providing higher-margin, tailored services to consumers.
Indeed, many companies have already begun targeting specific customer segments such as female backpackers or serious foodies, but so many others have not.
In Australia’s case, tour operators have aligned themselves with the NTO’s initiatives to home in on high-spending visitors such as golf groups from China and Indian incentives, while Asian travel consultants selling the destination have moved towards offering concierge-style services.
For any long-term national strategy to succeed, both the government and the trade need to work hand in hand, with the former handing the latter the tools to get started if necessary.
This article was first published in TTG Asia, June 29, 2012 issue, on page 4. To read more, please view our digital edition or click here to subscribe.