Asia is mastering the art of delivering one-of-a-kind touristic experiences to its visitors, one development at a time. Aleksandra Wood reports.
Taiwan, China, Vietnam, South Korea and Thailand are just some of the prominent destinations that instantly come to mind when referring to wondrous Asia – the Earth’s largest and most populous continent.
Over 44.6 million km2 of beguiling natural landscapes, dynamic 21st century infrastructure and a plethora of entertainment destinations and cultural sites await wanderers from around the world with open arms, inviting them to explore and discover a multitude of ethnic groups, religions, environments and economic and historical ties overflowing with touristic potential.
It is certainly challenging to keep up with this zealous destination, which not only manages to stay ahead of tourism trends but is an efficacious trendsetter itself.
Asia’s tourism industry has taken the year 2018 by storm, with each of its regions welcoming exciting new developments.
Nestled in the peninsula of Southeast Asia and gracing the coast of the South China Sea is none other than Vietnam, which represents a more serene and perhaps timid side of the continent, yet none the less striking.
“Vietnam stands out as a wonderful destination due to several factors, including an abundance of culture and history, as well as eight UNESCO sites,” chief operating officer, Trails of Indochina, Rob Rankin shared with TTG. “The country boasts great beach resorts, such as the up-and-coming Cam Ranh and Phu Quoc, alongside established areas like Danang.”
Government stability and security, paired with relaxed visa formalities simplifying the procedure of entry, has resulted in a prosperous year thus far for Vietnam, with tourism arrivals surging 22 per cent ahead of 2017, year-to-date. The Asian market leads the way with a 27 per cent growth, followed by the Americas with a 12 per cent growth and Europe with a nine per cent growth.
Vietnam, although gracious and serene in its presentation, does not fall back on the hustle and bustle of the industry. Rankin reveals the destination has welcomed a series of notable developments this year: “There is a new highway linking Hanoi and Haiphong, as well as Haiphong and Halong, which will significantly reduce the travel time to Halong and Lan Ha Bays. The Tam Ky area, just south of historic Hoi An, is opening up to the public and is earmarked for high-end resort development in the next few years.”
An unexpected niche market is also making a name for itself in the country – golf tourism. Vietnam is rapidly becoming an established tourism player in the golfing world, up to par with more reputable destinations such as Korea, Thailand and China. Over 40 courses are currently in operation, with another 60 in the pipeline.
Finally, recently improved flight connectivity to the main gateways of Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Danang, which will soon welcome direct flights from Doha, Qatar, has been a major contributor to a healthy influx of visitor arrivals to vibrant Vietnam.
Moving on to yet another tourism powerhouse, China maintains its monumental presence within the continent’s tourism stature, reinforced by thriving cities such as Hangzhou.
Director of sales and marketing, Park Hyatt Hangzhou. Eric Gong told TTG exclusively: “Inbound tourism in Hangzhou saw a six per cent jump in the first half of 2018, in comparison to the same period last year. The 2018 FINA World Swimming Championship in December is expected to further boost tourism to the city in Q4 of 2018.”
According to Gong, well-fortified international business interactions and opportunities, in addition to China’s gargantuan offering in terms of nature, culture and F&B, are what make the country a tourism leader in Asia.
On the country’s developments, he elucidated: “More and more new technologies are implemented into tourists’ experiences, in order to improve efficiency, liability and convenience, such as Artificial Intelligence and big data and identity verification systems. Meanwhile, sharing economy is also continuously developing in various perspectives of China tourism, such as car rental, accommodation, travel guides, healthcare and entertainment.”
As Hangzhou continues to ameliorate its offering and tackle trends head on, other parts of China are also undergoing their very own developments to keep up with increasing demand.
A major headliner for China was the announcement for the development of the world’s largest indoor snow and ski resort, Wintastar Shanghai, by Majid Al Futtaim – a retail and leisure pioneer in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
In an official press release, CEO, Majid Al Futtaim – ventures, Ahmed Galal Ismail stated: “We are delighted to work with KOP Limited and provide our expertise in developing what will be one of the greatest indoor snow entertainment facilities in the world.”
And while the majority of investors opt for bolder ventures, others are aiming to entice on-the-rise niche markets. Delving further into the southern regions of Asia, Indonesia is equally making noteworthy advancements to its tourism offering.
This exotic destination is focusing its efforts on the more active side of the industry – sports tourism.
“Sports tourism is one of the new niche segments in Indonesia’s tourism industry. In Palembang, it has become one of the main attractions, especially during the latest international event, the 18th Asian Games,” general manager, Wyndham Opi Hotel Palembang, George Wenur disclosed. “The number of visitors to Palembang increased rapidly during the event, and the effect was very positive for most sectors, especially the tourism sector.”
Wenur further stressed that sporting events help to reinforce Palembang’s reputation and raise interest in Indonesia as a destination, therefore driving its economic sector.
He further noted: “It is evident from data that Indonesia has one of the strongest tourism sectors in Asia. And of course, Bali is still in the lead as a favourite and most visited destination. However, the government [has promoted] 10 other destinations as alternatives for travellers, including Danau Toba, Labuan Bajo and Wakatobi.”
Asia is a continent of many a culture, countless religions and diverse ethnicities, all sharing one thing in common; their passion for delighting travellers worldwide and reinventing their touristic offering.