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Pacific Asia Watch
Southeast Asia Launches New Tourism Campaign
Ten Southeast Asian countries recently launched a new tourism campaign built around the slogan, Southeast Asia: feel the warmth . A dynamic, new, interactive website, SoutheastAsia.org is being created as the primary marketing tool. The new campaign, officially supported by the 10 ASEAN tourism ministers at the ASEAN Tourism Forum in Brunei, will immediately target tourists in medium and long haul markets such as the UK, Australia, India, North America and Hong Kong. Southeast Asia: feel the warmth and SoutheastAsia.org will emphasize the warmth of Southeast Asia's hospitality and climate and the diversity of the region's cultural attractions and tourism activities. The 10 participating countries are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Announcing the campaign, His Excellency Pehin Dato Yahya, Brunei's minister of Industry and Primary Resources, told ASEAN Tourism Forum delegates and media that the new campaign had been built on four principles: "First, the fact that 'Southeast Asia' has greater recognition in international source markets than 'ASEAN.' Second, the trust that online consumers now put in meta-search tools and user-generated content. Third, the importance of authenticity and 'warmth' in travelers' decision making processes. And fourth, the tremendous opportunities that Southeast Asia offers to visitors who are interested in exploring niche themes such as culture, adventure, shopping, ecotourism, island holidays, train travel, spa, culinary experiences, river and sea cruises, and much more."

Mr. Felix J. Cruz, chairman of the ASEAN Tourism Association (ASEANTA) and vice president for Marketing at Philippine Airlines, said that the campaign had the supporting objectives of promoting multi-destination travel within Southeast Asia, boosting tourism as a tool to fight poverty in the poorer areas of the region, and helping small and medium-sized tourism enterprises showcase their tourism services to a wider audience. “Southeast Asia: Feel The Warmth” was jointly created by ASEANTA and the ASEAN Competitiveness Enhancement (ACE) office in collaboration with the 10 ASEAN member countries of Southeast Asia. The region's national tourism organizations played a key role at each stage of the brand and campaign development. The ACE project was designed and funded by the United States Agency for International Development. ACE Project Director, Mr. R. J. Gurley, said: "We are particularly excited about the boost in demand our theme-based approach to content will bring to niche-focused small and medium-sized tourism enterprises throughout ASEAN."

In January 2009, ACE and ASEANTA signed an agreement to work together on a new branding and marketing campaign that would encourage travelers to visit multiple Southeast Asian destinations, stay longer, and spend more money in the region. Since then, ACE has created alliances and agreements across the public and private sectors to build the campaign. For example, for SoutheastAsia.org, Lonely Planet is supplying insights and practical information on more than 8,000 travel attractions and things to do in Southeast Asia. Singapore-based travel search engine, Wego, created the integrated map, trip planner, and meta-search engine which will be the key application integral to the new website. Another Singapore firm, Qais, developed the site and will build traveler awareness of SoutheastAsia.org through a sustained e-marketing campaign, which also started with the 25 January launch.

The initial phase of the SoutheastAsia.org launch is centered on a contest to populate SoutheastAsia.org with user-generated text, images, videos, and articles. The user-generated content will supplement professionally sourced content from Lonely Planet, ASEAN's national tourism organizations, professional travel writers and other contributors. Contestants submitting content can win prizes. The website and broader online marketing campaign will be fully launched at ITB Berlin in March.

As part of the roll-out, the ASEAN Tourism Association, with support from ASEAN NTOs, have agreed to establish an ASEAN Tourism Marketing Center, initially within the ACE project in Bangkok. The center's ACE-funded staff will coordinate with Wego and Qais to build awareness of SoutheastAsia.org and handle consumer queries. ACE has financed the development of Southeast Asia: feel the warmth, SoutheastAsia.org, the e-marketing campaign and the staffing of the ASEAN Tourism Marketing Center. While SoutheastAsia.org has been created with a flight and accommodation search interface (meta-search engine), bookings and payments will take place on the website of the travel supplier. Mr. Gurley, said that ACE's objective was to "create a fully functioning and integrated global development alliance based on public and private sector partnership that would serve Southeast Asian tourism."
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