Published on : Friday, January 17, 2014
The ten members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) – Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – are becoming increasingly important source markets for international travel.
Kuoni Group Travel Experts, which gives businesses selling group tours access to a wide range of accommodation, services and experiences around the world, reveals that room nights booked for group travel rose by 9% last year. The news comes as the ASEAN Tourism Fair (ATF, 16-23 January 2014) opens in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia this week.
David Painter, chief executive of Kuoni Group Travel Experts, says: “Upgraded infrastructure coupled with political and legislative commitment will help drive trade links, both within the ASEAN region but also with the rest of the world in coming years. This will in turn drive the growth of potentially millions of middle class consumers with a greater desire and ability to travel.”
The 10 countries account for 600 million people with a combined GDP of USD2.1 trillion, according to HSBC, and offer increasing potential for tourism as their economic prospects improve. The heart of this potential lies in the middle class, both as consumers and as a source of highly educated, high-productivity labour. GDP growth is robust, driven largely by domestic consumption and growing intra-regional trade.
In the past, achieving the region’s full growth potential has been blunted by poor connectivity, but it has used the global economic crisis to embark on a major infrastructure upgrade; building roads, ports and railways while dismantling the bureaucratic barriers to trade. That trade is expected to rise sharply over the next decade as the ASEAN Economic Community becomes a further boon from the end of 2015.
Europe is already benefiting from growing demand out of ASEAN thanks to group travel, which is often the first choice for large numbers of newer travellers who want to explore longer haul destinations. When travelling beyond Asia, group travellers from the ASEAN region made Italy, France, Switzerland, Spain and Germany their most popular destinations. Germany overtook the Netherlands to make the top five in 2013, while room nights booked in Switzerland rose by 44%. Other major destinations that saw double digit increases in group travel in 2013 included Norway, the Czech Republic, Austria and the UK.
David adds: “Group travel gives ASEAN travellers the reassurance and security of native language tour guides, pre-planned meals and rooming in hotels that are best able to meet their needs, alongside itineraries that ensure they enjoy the attractions and experiences they want.
“Whether customising a trip for ten or more family members or planning a city break for dozens of people, Kuoni Group Travel Experts makes it easy to put together the best programme possible, at the best price possible.”
ASEAN Tourism Forum promotes the region as a single tourist destination where Asian hospitality and cultural diversity are at its best. It is an increasingly important forum for the world’s travel industry to promote its destinations.