Arabian Travel Market (ATM) has revealed the 2016 shortlist for its annual New Frontiers Recovery Awards, with three Asian nations nominated for this year’s award, which will be announced on Thursday 28th April during ATM.
The shortlisted destinations Nepal, the Philippines and Taiwan have all been recognised for dealing with the dual impact of significant human and economic losses in the last 12 months due to devastating natural catastrophes, their effect on local tourism and their remarkable efforts to recover.
“The last year has not only been the hottest on record, weather and climate-related disasters dominating headlines, but has also seen a doubling in the number of recorded fatalities on 2014 figures,” said Nadege Noblet-Segers, Exhibition Manager, Arabian Travel Market.
“And, although the economic impact of these incidences has declined from US$42 billion in 2014 to US$35 billion in 2015, it is still a devastating blow to those nations where reliance on the tourism dollar is linked not only to economic growth but also to the fulfillment of the most basic daily needs of local people for whom a job in the tourism industry means food on the table and a future for their family,” she added.
The New Frontiers Recovery Award was created in 2005 to recognise outstanding contributions to tourism development in the face of overwhelming adversity, supporting the chosen destination by donating exhibition space at the event to the value of US$10,000.
As well as physical rebuilding, the award also focuses on the strategic redevelopment of a destination as nations seek to repair market confidence and attract tourism back to the region.
“Efforts to rebuild and recover need to be front and centre at an international level if countries are to regain traveller confidence and re-energise their tourism product post-disaster, and the New Frontiers Recovery Award, which is now in its 12th year, is absolutely the right vehicle through which to recognise country efforts and reposition destinations to an influential global audience,” said Noblet-Segers.
Previous award recipients include Phuket, Thailand; Cancun, Mexico; Sichuan, China; Baluchistan, Pakistan; Central Visayas, Philippines and last year, Nepal.
This year’s nominees have all had to repair, rebuild and recover, with efforts ongoing in some destinations. The 2016 short list includes:
Taiwan – earthquake, February 2016: The island nation, which has long been a popular tourism destination, was hit by a 6.4-magnitude earthquake causing the worst death toll in the country’s history since 1999. Building safety and agricultural land soil concerns remain a challenge just several weeks after the event, with US$1 billion in aid already allocated by the government. In the aftermath of the earthquake, Taiwan’s government was swift to react and construction regulation has been put on the agenda for discussion with local authorities/municipalities already being urged to conduct structural safety checks of all buildings. Around 2,000 schools have already been retrofitted for quake safety.
Nepal – earthquake, April 2015: The 7.8-magnitude earthquake flattened large parts of the capital Kathmandu and caused devastation across the entire nation, destroying numerous historical sites and popular tourism attractions. A total of 6,204 fatalities were recorded with more than 14,000 people injured and 2.8 million Nepalese displaced. According to UN reports, 130,033 houses and 16,000 were damaged or destroyed, 90% of health services were affected and the annual harvest/crops were either lost or severely impacted. The tourism sector immediately saw 80% of all forward bookings cancelled and while, almost one year on, hotels in Kathmandu have seen an upsurge in bookings, a large majority is due to international agency personnel as opposed to regular tourists. Over US$52 million was pledged by the UN and dozens of countries in support of post-disaster relief with the country’s tourism body surveying and approving hotels to re-open, and adventure travel companies reprising hiking/trekking itineraries in unaffected areas such as Chitwan and Bardia
The Philippines – typhoon, October 2015: Typhoon Koppu brought with it winds of up to 115 mph, displacing half a million people and directly affecting over 1.24 million Filipinos. A total of 17,254 homes were damaged as a result of the typhoon with significant structural damage to houses, schools, hospitals and other community facilities including hotels/guesthouses. The typhoon hit land in Luzon, the country’s largest and most densely populated island, bringing with it torrential rain and landslides. The economic impact included flight cancellations, people stranded in other ports and entire districts without power, and therefore unable to function, with a reported economic sot of around US$160 million. As part of ongoing efforts to recover, the Philippines National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council donated US$480,000-worth of assistance.