ASEANTA (ASEAN Tourism Association) is partnering technology provider Fusionex to create a quarterly virtual exhibition and engagement platform for the region’s tourism sector, complementing the in-person ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) bound for Sihanoukville in January 2022.
Set for launch in Q4 this year, the online ASEAN Travel Exchange (ATEX) will allow the sector to transcend physical boundaries and reach a global audience through livestream pitches, B2B matching as well as exhibition-style showcases with virtual booths and so on.
The move is “monumental” with the industry “on the brink of a colossal leap forward”, Fusionex founder and Group CEO Ivan Teh remarked at the virtual MoU signing event today (12 August).
As Covid-19 continues to accelerate digitalisation, Eddy Krismeidi Soemawilaga, President of ASEANTA and Head of Indonesia Affairs and Policy at AirAsia, expects ATEX will provide the region’s tourism sector with a “timely B2B marketplace to support recovery'' through resumption of product and destination promotion.
A video presentation revealed preliminary expectations for ATEX to involve more than 300 exhibitors, 900 live steam pitches and 27,000 business matching opportunities.
While initial participation may be from a small group of destinations on their way to restarting travel, Soemawilagahe is positive that their participation could trigger broader regional impetus to open up borders to tourists.
To attract buyers, ASEANTA plans to tap into its network and connect members with key source markets in Europe, the Middle East, China, Japan and South Korea.
The partnership is also expected to give rise to new artificial intelligence solutions for travel companies including real-time monitoring and analytics, to help companies derive “the right strategies to overcome any crisis”, according to Teh.
Teh foresees business gleaning insights from the platform to address volatile supply and demand scenarios, enabling better-informed plans and decisions on resource allocation.
Dr Thong Rathasak (centre), Chairman of ASEAN NTOs, Director General of Tourism Development and International Cooperation, Ministry of Tourism, Cambodia, confirmed that Sihanoukville is set to host ATF 2022.
Meanwhile, Soemawilaga stressed that ATEX is not meant to replace the in-person ATF 2022.
“Covid might be around for years. We have to prepare with that scenario in mind, and an online platform is the answer to that. For now, ATEX will be online [and rotate between host countries],” he said. "Depending on reopening developments down the line, there may be opportunities to expand the platform to a physical format."
Dr Thong Rathasak, Chairman of ASEAN NTOs, Director General of Tourism Development and International Cooperation, Ministry of Tourism, Cambodia, confirmed again that the newly rejuvenated Sihanoukville is set to host ATF 2022.
Thong shared: “We are looking at a small-scale physical exhibition probably held outdoors. Sihanoukville has been transformed in the past two years and this will be a good opportunity for tourists and [delegates] to come and experience ATF [in the destination]. We will also invite buyers and sellers to attend virtually in a hybrid format.
“Cambodia has never been shut. It’s just that the requirement on international tourist arrivals has been limited and strict. At this point, we are looking for a SOP [on inbound travel] to be developed and approved by the government. This will be key to our reopening."