Where a collection of ancient wonders meets buzzing cities, Asia is imbuing energy and enterprise into its tourism product. Natalie Hami reports.
Brimming with diversity and intrigue, the boundless continent of Asia skilfully offers a variety of tourism niches, from adventure and wellness to MICE and leisure, empowering tourism stakeholders to consolidate their eclectic product.
Inevitably, certain cities and destinations have risen to the fore, such as Shenzhen in China, which has been dubbed ‘Silicon Valley’. According to regional director of marketing – APAC, Four Seasons Hotel Shenzhen, Cristina Dolendo, Shenzhen has increasingly become a hub in the logistic chain for all types of manufacturing, with some of China’s major companies headquartered there.
“Most people still only recall Shenzhen for its shopping facilities. But this young dynamic city has lots to offer; sporting recreation, the biggest electronics hub, nature parks, theme parks for children, a cafe culture, arts, design and architecture. It was recognised as a UNESCO ‘City of Design’ in 2008 after all,” Dolendo exclusively told TTG, adding that China is predicted to become the most popular travel destination by 2030.
Honing in on the island city-state of Singapore, general manager, Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium, Tuncay Bockin informed TTG that the destination is keen on enhancing its overall attractiveness by hosting global events such as The Singapore Airshow, The Singapore Grand Prix and continuing to promote itself as a reliable business hub.
“There are also plans to revamp the Orchard Road shopping belt to include more activities and attractions for tourists and locals, as well as reshape Sentosa Island’s attractions and develop Pulau Brani and the Greater Southern Waterfront,” stated Bockin.
Singapore has also been diligently shaping and maintaining its world-renowned MICE reputation. The destination is home to the Sands Expo and Convention Centre, which, in 2018 alone, hosted over 3,600 events with more than 1.4 million attendees. Furthermore, the iconic Marina Bay Sands’ recent announcement of a $3.3 billion expansion plan also includes additional meetings and convention space.
Bockin noted: “Singapore experiences around 15-18 per cent of MICE visitors every year, maintaining its reputation as a destination of choice for quality events and exhibitions.”
Highlighting the property’s own focus on this fast-growing tourism niche, he explained that Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium boasts 13 versatile meeting rooms and recently upgraded audio-visual equipment with the latest technology.
“IHG as company has been a strong player in the MICE segment, with a wide range of venues available across its various brands. The groups and meetings tools, as well as the sales specialists on the field, help us leverage ourselves in a dynamic market such as Singapore.”
Also working with MICE in mind, The Anam, a five -star resort set on a long stretch of beach on Can Ranh Bay in Vietnam, is also working to further capitalise on its extensive MICE facilities, according to its general manager, Philippe Cavory.
“The Anam’s world-class conference facilities offer MICE planners and delegates from Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and beyond a reinvigorating oceanside location with ample space and cutting-edge technology. Defined by its clean, Indochine-era influenced architecture and wooden floors, the Au Lac Ballroom caters for up to 250 people theatre-style and 120 for a banquet.”
Cavory highlighted the versatility of the ballroom, noting that it plays host to different types of events, ranging from launch presentations, annual company meetings and awards ceremonies to galas and wedding dinners. The property also has two dedicated meeting rooms that can be opened to create a larger meeting room. Both rooms offer state-of-the-art projectors and sound systems. Meanwhile, the theatre can accommodate 60 people in tiered seating and boasts a large high-resolution screen with a 9.2 surround sound system.
Travelling northwards to another significant MICE player, the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) held a total of 1,000 events from July 2018 to June 2019, including 119 exhibitions and 159 international and local conferences, along with hundreds of corporate meetings, banquets and entertainment events. During the year, the HKCEC welcomed a record attendance of over 8.5 million, including exhibitors, trade buyers, conference and meeting delegates, event visitors, banquet guests and restaurant customers.
Ensuring that it breaks record attendance once more, the HKCEC continues its $128 million five-year advancement project with mega scale renovations of various facilities and infrastructure in several stages.
With a view to completing the project in 2024, Phase 1, which started in the early summer of 2019, covers the convention hall, theatres, foyers and more. The audio system, air handling units, water pipes and fire services installations will be upgraded, while carpets, operable partitions and wall fabrics will be replaced. The first stage also includes the setting up of 5G infrastructure.
Managing director, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (Management) Limited (HML), Monica Lee-Müller said: “At HML, we take great pride in the architectural splendour, the dramatic location and high-quality construction and fitting out of the showpiece venue we manage. HML is committed to upkeep the HKCEC as a world-class venue. We continue to look for opportunities to improve and share our success with our business partners, staff members and community at large.”
COMMITMENT TO MENA MARKET
As a number of Asian destinations open themselves up to new markets, some are looking to attract more traditional markets, while others are casting their net towards the unique MENA market.
Highlighting this, Dolendo of the Four Seasons Hotel Shenzhen noted the property’s strong commitment to the region, reflected in the brand’s portfolio, with 21 out of the 115 properties globally being within the Middle East and Africa, and still expanding.
“As we grow our number of hotels and resorts in a specific market, we are seeing an increase from those local customers to other properties as well.”
Steadfast and strategic, Asia’s stakeholders are eagerly focusing on the moneymaking sectors of the continent’s incredible tourism industry.