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Market Intelligence Meetings & Exchange: Asia Pacific.
By Jane Vong Holmes
Friday, 14th December 2007
 
Founded in 1963 by a group of travel agents, ICCA's first and foremost aim was to evaluate practical ways to get the travel industry involved in the rapidly expanding market of international meetings and to exchange actual information related to their operations in this market. This initiative soon proved to have been taken at the right moment: the meeting industry expanded even more rapidly than foreseen.

1.The Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) has called for an immediate increase in Tourism Australia's funding by the Federal Government to address what it describes as the country's serious decline in international conventions and business meetings.

This follows ICCA's statistical report that business-event delegate numbers to Australia declined by 11 per cent over 10 years from 1996, and a report released last week by the UN-linked Union of International Associations showing a 31.5 per cent fall in the number of global conferences in Australia since 2001.
 
2. The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and The Nielsen Company China have announced a broad strategic partnership focused on delivering unrivalled statistics, analyses and forecasts to the Asia Pacific travel and tourism industry.

The new relationship will also offer cooperation opportunities such as co-branded research and PR studies, and joint workshops. One of the first will be a China Outbound workshop, conducted by The Nielsen Company at the PATA Travel Mart in Bali this September.

While the agreement will initially focus on the China (PRC) market, the relationship will take a regional perspective with the participation of other markets throughout Asia Pacific
 
3. In other PATA news, PATA debunks persistent myths about the extent of air travel's impact on global warming in their statement about climate change.

"Airplanes generate emissions but they are not carbon-spewing monsters," says PATA President and CEO Mr Peter de Jong in the article that appeared in FORTUNE magazine, April 30. "If all air travel was banned, there would only be a 2% reduction in emissions and the impact on global economies would be catastrophic."
 
4. Hong Kong's exhibition industry roared in 2006 with a record growth of 50 per cent, according to the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Industry Association's (HKECIA) annual exhibition survey.

Net exhibition metres occupied by exhibiting companies rose a record high of 50 per cent since 1997 while total exhibition stand rental revenues rose to US$332.4 million.

The number of exhibiting companies also grew to almost 62,000, an almost 50 per cent increase compared with 2005. Mainland Chinese exhibitors remained the major driving force, and surged up by 139 per cent last year.

Exhibiting companies also increased from Hong Kong (25 per cent), from the Asia-Pacific region (more than 50 per cent) and the rest of the world (11 per cent).

5. Low cost carriers (LCCs) in the Asia Pacific market will account for 25 per cent of total seats in the region within the next five years.
Based on the latest estimates by the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA), it was revealed that Asia Pacific LCCs have doubled their current penetration.
It is expected that the growth of LCC fleets in the region, based on known orders, will rise from around 300 aircrafts with 45,000 seats to approximately 870 aircraft with 170,000 seats by 2012. AirAsia Group, including its Malaysian, Thai, Indonesian and long-haul operations, will become by far the region's biggest LCC by 2012, following an order made by AirAsiaX for A330s with 396 seats each.
The crash of Thai budget carrier One-Two-Go is the latest in a line of air disasters involving low cost carriers. According to an article by Asia Sentinel, the crash has raised concerns regarding the ability for low-cost airlines to maintain satisfactory safety standards.

In 2006, the growth of low-cost flights operating to and from Asia increased 666 percent from 2005, according to a report by Business Week. This surge in low cost carriers has undoubtedly fuelled competition on routes traditionally monopolised by flag carriers and lowered airfares for everyday consumers.
Asian low cost airlines have about 9% of the Asian short haul passenger traffic, compared with 31% in North America and 26% in Europe. Many Asian low cost airlines are opting not only for wide-bodied aircraft but also for a two-class model to lure business customers away from established carriers.
 
6. As Asia's tourism and hospitality sector struggles to cope with what now represents its worst staffing crisis in recent times, many employers are now being forced to rethink their staff selection criteria in order to ensure they can fill vacancies.
 
According to leading recruitment and executive search specialist TMS Asia-Pacific (TMS) the situation has resulted in a paradox for many of its Asian clients who are now dropping their overall criteria requirements - some by as much as 30 per cent - to secure staff. The situation had been further exacerbated by the huge staffing demands now being fuelled by major casino and hotel developments taking place across the region – particularly in Macau and China.
 
TMS further adds that this situation is similar in China where event organisers and hotel management have already created a staffing ‘vacuum' for their Asian neighbours as the country's gears up to host the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. The construction of more than 150 first-class hotels across the country is placing further pressure on the region and recruiters are looking even further afield to engage qualified staff for their Chinese clients.
 
Singapore's status as a source of highly-qualified, bi-lingual candidates made the country an obvious target. The Macau/China-led recruitment push, he said, was also having a marked effect in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines where the hospitality industry has seen many of its lower level, highly customer service-oriented staff lured overseas by attractive remuneration packages.
 
7. Marriott International currently has 34 "announceable" hotels in Asia -
projects that are "signed, sealed and delivered" and its current expansion in Asia exceeds that of any time. Part of the "announceable" list are 15 hotels in China opening between this year and 2009; and nine in India between 2008 and 2009.

In UAE, the group is opening 10 hotels between 2009 and 2010.
Meanwhile, Hilton Hotels Corporation has announced that they will have 300 hotels in Asia Pacific within the next 10 years, in the upscale and mid markets and particularly in India (75 hotels) and China (25 hotels).

While there has been a giant surge in in-bound business and leisure travel in recent years thanks to low airfares and the growth of services industry, the Economic Times India has reported that 30 to 35 percent of airline cancellations have been a result of lack of rooms in India. India experienced a 15.5 percent rise in international passenger traffic in the first six months of this year. However, this growth is not matched by the addition of hotel rooms. Experts say the lack of hotel rooms may affect the country's future tourism potential.

8. Although the EU's ban on Garuda airlines is technically only applicable to the airlines flying to Europe (it currently does not), it sends out a number of much wider messages, especially to travel agencies booking EU citizens on flights to and within Indonesia. Insurance companies, too, will not cover EU citizens travelling on Indonesian flights, or be legally within their rights to refuse to make payouts in the event of a mishap.
 
The ban came exactly three months before Bali hosts PATA Travel Mart between September 28-30, 2007 to which nearly all the buyers and sellers will be flying on Indonesian airlines, especially Garuda, the host airline.
 
Industry observers remarked that those most concerned with these latest developments is Indonesia's tourism industry which sees the EU ban as another threat to international confidence in Indonesia's tourism.
 
9. PATA has picked Bangkok as the venue of their inaugural PATA Summit to be held in April 2008. This annual Summit will replace the four decades old PATA Annual Conference which bowed out in 2006. PATA CEO, Mr Peter de Jong, believes that the difference that this Summit offers is in its cross-sectoral relevance, Asia Pacific angle and a theme that truly matters for the industry in the next 12 months.
 
10. The ACI Global Traffic Forecast 2006-2025 indicates that passenger volumes are predicted to expand by an average of 4% annually over the 20-year period, with Asia leading with a rate of 9% until 2009, and challenging North America as the world's largest market by 2025. India and China PR will be the two fastest growing countries in the world with 10.4% and 8.1% growth respectively.
 
Asian Aerospace 2007(3-6 Sept 07) was, decidedly, a different air show from the previous ones held in Singapore. Gone are the fighter jets that drew crowds, it is now more a business-to-business exhibition with more private jet planes on display. Asian Aerospace International Expo and Congress is anticipated to host 500 exhibiting companies from more than 20 countries and 10,000 trade visitors in the city. The conference is was held in Hong Kong for the first time in 25 years, since it moved from its original home in Singapore, a shift that organisers say reflects the boom in Chinese aviation.


11. Macau is certainly carving its place as a key Asian meetings & exhibitions destination as the USD2.4 billion Venetian Macao, the world's second largest building, opened its doors in late Aug 2007 with 3,000 hotel rooms and 1.2 million sq ft of convention space – by far Asia's largest. Macau's gain could mean some pain, at least for many secondary cities in Asia.
 
The big concern from them isn't Macau's booming gaming market but its increasing allure as a tourist and shopping destination and its emergence as a premier convention and exhibition hub in Asia with its closely-knit twin Hong Kong.
 
As Macau booms, Singapore is racing to finish its own two casino resorts in Marina Bay and Sentosa by 2009. But higher costs are taking their toll on the two biggest construction projects, it has been reported that construction costs at Marina Bay Sands (also by Las Vegas Sands) have been revised up nearly 40%.
 
Observers predict that Chinese Taipei and Japan are the next likely homes for mega casinos in Asia, once their respective parliaments approve new gaming deregulation plans over the next 12 months.

What is ICCA 
ICCA was founded in 1963 by a group of travel agents. Their first and foremost aim was to evaluate practical ways to get the travel industry involved in the rapidly expanding market of international meetings and to exchange actual information related to their operations in this market. This initiative soon proved to have been taken at the right moment: the meeting industry expanded even more rapidly than foreseen. As a result of which candidates from all over the world applied for ICCA membership. Not only congress travel agents but representatives from all the various sectors of the meetings industry.


ICCA now is one of the most prominent organisations in the world of international meetings. It is the only association that comprises a membership representing the main specialists in handling, transporting and accommodating international events. With over 800 members in 80 countries worldwide, it is certainly the most global organisation within the meetings industry. ICCA has offices in the Netherlands, Malaysia, U.S.A. and Uruguay. www.iccaworld.com

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