THE highest powers in ASEAN's tourism bodies will debut a new website today to promote intra-ASEAN travel and tour packages, which some say overlaps with a website launched by the ASEAN Tourism Association (ASEANTA) in 2010.
The brainchild of the region’s tourism ministers, Aseantourism.travel features a commercial component that contains 130 South-east Asian tourism products that have been endorsed by regional leaders.
Malaysia’s Ministry of Tourism secretary-general, Ong Hong Peng, who was also the NTO head for Malaysia and chairman of the Product Development Working Group at the 37th Meeting of ASEAN NTOs on January 18, said the next step of the project would see the creation of tour packages combining two or more ASEAN countries and promotion on the new site.
The website also provides information related to the region’s tourism industry such as policies, facts and figures, and marketing initiatives.
Sansern Ngaorungsi, deputy governor Asia and South Pacific Market at Tourism Authority of Thailand and chairman of the Marketing Working Group, said Aseantourism.travel, developed at a cost of US$20,000, allows member countries to log in and update content.
However, some travel trade players regard the new website as a duplicate of ASEANTA’s online portal, SoutheastAsia.org, first promoted at ITB Berlin in 2010.
A source close to the SoutheastAsia.org project said the new website would “confuse the public who will not know which is the latest”.
The source added: “There are more than 2,000 tour packages on SoutheastAsia.org, while the new website has only 130 (products). (The former) must be promoted further. ASEANTA may lack funds for promotion, so ASEAN NTOs should come in and allocate a budget for support.”
ASEANTA board member, Oudet Souvannavong, admitted that SoutheastAsia.org was not up-to-date as there was a “lack of (manpower) capacity”.
He said ASEANTA might consider heeding suggestions from some members to privatise the website.
That said, Oudet does not see the new site as competition. He said: “From a business standpoint, the more portals, the better.”
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