At the recently concluded PATA New Tourism Frontiers Forum 2015 in Albay, the Philippines, a one-hour discussion panel shone a spotlight on ASEAN’s potential as a multi-country adventure travel destination with an emphasis on sustainability and the roads less traveled.
An initiative of the ASEAN National Tourism Organization, “ASEAN for Adventure: where horizons are endless” brought together three experts on adventure travel in Southeast Asia, each one sharing their individual insights with the delegates gathered at the Oriental Hotel in Legazpi City last November 27.
Gracing the panel were Sylvain Gianni, from Asiaventure Services offering adventure travel experiences in the Philippines & Borneo; Willem Niemeijer, from Khiri Travel Group covering the greater Mekong sub-region; and Struan Robertson, from SpiceRoads Cycle Tours operating across Asia and other continents.
In a free-flowing discussion emceed by Andrew Jones, PATA Vice-Chairman and sustainability tourism expert, the panelists shared their experiences with curating varied and sustainable travel experiences throughout Southeast Asia.
“We are fortunate that there is so much diversity in our own backyard within the 10 nations of ASEAN,” explained Robertson. “Now more than ever, due to the easing of visa requirements and permits, it’s exciting to be able to cross the borders and experience these differences.”
“Tourism is one of the most promising drivers of the world economy,” Niemeijer told the audience. “If that’s true, then we must already focus our thinking of how we disperse the tourism economy in as many parts of Southeast Asia as we can.”
“Microsoft, Internet, Google, Facebook, to name a few, changed our lives,” said Gianni. “Nowadays, any hotel or guesthouse on the most remote island or deep in the forest can be connected to the rest of the world. We tourism operators now have more options to offer our guests exactly what they want.”
The talk was warmly received by over 500 delegates in attendance. “The panel was inspiring,” explained delegate Cathy Brillantes-Turvill. “If countries within ASEAN can help each other be able to reach [each market], then [doing] business is easier.”
Held from November 25 to 27, the PATA New Tourism Frontiers Forum 2015 included networking events and a whole-day Technical Tour and Tourism Marketing Treasure Hunt, with the one-day conference (including the “ASEAN for Adventure” panel) taking place on the Forum’s last day.
For the panel facilitator Andrew Jones, this important conversation could not have come at a better time. “We did this session is because of the ASEAN Economic Community developing,” Jones told the audience. “We have visitors from all over the region [seeing] how we’re going to encourage interrelationships.”