ASEAN – where the bloody hell is Australia?

I have just returned from a very successful 2013 ASEAN Tourism Forum in Vientiane, Laos. Once again I was struck by the depth of ecotourism, leisure and business products available in the region. The growth rates of the tourism industry quoted across the region are just stunning – 15%, 24%, 18% - country after country rattles off double digit annual growth.

ASEAN consists of ten nations – Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Brunei, Thailand, Philippines and Singapore. Beyond ASEAN is a plus 3 group – Korea, Japan and China. These 13 countries are all actively involved in co-operation in relation to aviation, visa issues, infrastructure, co-operative marketing and many other issues.

I have now attended the last five ASEAN Tourism Forums and am struck by the fact that Australia is not represented at a government or industry level. This is a critical region for Australia's tourism future – it contains the fastest growing economies of the world, has a similar time zone and is within 10 hours flying time. Collectively ASEAN+3 economies represent a significant percentage of the global economy.

The ASEAN + 3 nations are critical to Australia's tourism (and overall trade) future. Active participation in the ASEAN Tourism Forum would be a logical and desirable move for Australian tourism players - both government and industry.

Tony Charters,
Tony Charters & Associates

Electric Carshare

Australia's first and largest carshare service has been chosen by the Victorian Department of Transport as the lead fleet partner to launch the first Electric Vehicle network in Australia. GoGet locations will include Australia's most sustainable hotel the Alto Hotel and 101 Collins Street, which are using the convenient transport option as a cheaper alternative to car ownership. The company will also be securing additional CBD locations and sees the use of carshare in the travel and tourism space as part of a growing convenience and competitive advantage for this type of transport in Australia.

Further information: http://www.goget.com.au/

Airline Review

A new website has been launched giving passengers the opportunity to review, critique, compliment and comment on an airlines conduct. The Association for Airline Passenger Rights (AAPR) has partnered with Shelterous to provide passengers with an online platform to share opinions and experiences about airline service and performance. The partnership aims to offer added consumer protection by providing interactive information and an educational database for leisure flyers. The AAPR is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote fairer customer service and accessibility standards in the airline industry and to improve passenger satisfaction.

Further information: http://aapr.shelterous.com/

Malaysia's Ambitious Targets Revealed

If Australia's tourism growth target to double overnight visitor revenue by 2020 seems ambitious it pales into insignificance when compared to Malaysia's bold new target. By 2020 Malaysia aims to triple tourism revenue and double tourism numbers. Clearly there is an underlying aim to improve yield and visitor spend. With average tourism growth rates of 12.5% each year for the past ten years the new target for Malaysia is not far fetched.

Tourism Malaysia Director General Dato Mirza Mohammad Taiyab speaking at the ASEAN Tourism Forum in Laos last week outlined a multi pronged approach to achieve the target including: a focus on extending length of stay, significant development

of shopping tourism including the removal of duty on hundreds of items; use of themed years (2014 will be Visit Malaysia year); tax and other incentives to attract internationals to retire in Malaysia; a push for luxury tourism including spa, health and eco retreats; and homestay. Policies to reduce red tape such as online visas, although no visa is required for many countries already, and new infrastructure to grow capacity like the new low cost carrier terminal in Kuala Lumpur will assist in achieving the growth targets.
Sarawak, Malaysia to host ATF in 2014

The ASEAN Tourism Forum will head to Sarawak in 2014 – bringing ecotourism to the fore. Sarawak is renowned  as a nature destination and Malaysian Tourism Minister Ng Yen Yen stated that Sarawak was proposed to give the destination greater exposure.
“It has great ecotourism products and good infrastructure for MICE. By organizing the ATF there we hope to showcase the destination’s natural beauty, infrastructure for business events and diverse tourism products to those looking for adventure, heritage and culture”.


Minister Ng said she wished to present Sarawak as a model case study to be emulated by overseas tour operators and planners on how a secondary destination can build on its strengths – blending culture and the environment – to become successful in tourism.

ATF 2014 will be held January 16-23 January in Kuching.

Ethical Destinations

The Ethical Traveller has released its annual survey of the world's most ethical tourism hotspots which combine best practice and support for environmental protection, human rights and social welfare. The top ten ethical destinations were Barbados, Cape Verde, Costa Rica, Ghana, Latvia, Lithuania, Mauritius, Palau, Samoa and Uruguay. These nations were evaluated across a range of criteria covering ecosystem support, political rights, women's equality, commitment to LGBT rights, press freedom, natural and cultural attractions and for the first time, terrestrial and marine area protection.

Further information: http://www.ethicaltraveler.org/explore/the-worlds-ten-best-ethical-destinations-2013/

Responsible Camping


The New Zealand Responsible Camping Forum is encouraging campers to do the right thing by knowing the local rules governing freedom camping and using local holiday parks or camping areas. An educational campaign in recent years has seen rental vehicle companies actively recommend their clients stay in holiday parks, Department of Conservation camping grounds or other designated camping areas. This message is reinforced by i-SITE staff and local information posted on the website.

Further information: http://www.camping.org.nz/

Ecotourism vs Mining in Key Flamingo Ecosystem

There is a controversial plan to develop a soda ash plant in the important flamingo breeding area of Lake Natrin in Tanzania.
Lake Natron is home to about 2.5 million lesser pink flamingos, which is equivalent to three-quarters of global population.

Birdlife International through a campaign dubbed ‘Think Pink’ is advocating for a complete withdrawal of the soda ash project which it says will risk the endangering the lesser flamingo, the integrity of Lake Natron ecosystem,  and local tourism related jobs.

A cost benefit study which was undertaken between September 2011 and May 2012, looked at three possible options for Lake Natron: soda ash mining, business-as-usual and ecotourism and livelihood promotion.

The study led by economist Dr. Reuben Kadigi stated “at present soda ash prices and investment costs to develop the mine, the benefits of ecosystem conservation outweigh the benefits of soda ash mining.”

Lake Natron is a wetland of international importance designated under the Ramsar Convention. Tourists flock to the area for flamingo watching. Mrs Sophia Ndakarr, the Chair of the Ngare Sero cultural boma says ecotourism gives the local communities better opportunities. “Tourists come to see our beautiful culture and enjoy nature. In the process our lives are better. We cannot say the same of a soda ash plant.”

by Mary Mwendwa – Kenya (View full article)

Peer-to-Peer Travellers

California-based Trablr will give travellers a way to search multiple sharing-minded sites in order to plan and book all the components of their trip using peer-to-peer providers. Once they've decided on their destination, travellers can use Trablr to arrange transportation via car share or ride share, find accommodations via apartment rental, reserve a place to work through a desk share or office share arrangement and then set up recreational activities such as scooter rental and social meals.

Further information: http://www.trablr.com/
Youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=UhbPmJIDs9o

Adults Only Zoo

A world-first choose-your-own-adventure journey designed for adults has started at Melbourne Zoo. I, Animal is part theatre performance, multimedia tour and animal encounter, it is a unique experience that is set to challenge preconceptions about what it means to be an animal. Using an iPod Touch guide visitors delve into the long and sometimes dark history of the zoo, exploring the nature of its residents through a magical storytelling experience. Produced in collaboration with award-winning theatre company, the Border Project, it uses sophisticated technology developed by Art Processors, makers of the 'O' device at Hobart's Museum of Old and New Art.

Further information: http://www.zoo.org.au/melbourne/whats-on/i-animal

Penguin Cam

Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy has partnered with OREO to donate the first solar-powered Penguin Cam to researchers at Palmer Station on Torgerson Island in Antarctica. The webcam will be an important educational outreach tool, providing students and the public with an opportunity to follow Adelie penguins throughout their life cycle and observe their characteristic behaviour. The long term ecological research program intends to make the webcam feed available via the internet to post regular updates and provide a record of visual weather conditions and climate indicators such as snow cover.

Further information: http://www.abercrombiekent.com/news/


Wine and Tourism Partnership

A three year Memorandum of Understanding between Wine Australia and Tourism Australia will see the two Australian Government agencies partner to promote wine and tourism in key international markets such as China, the USA, UK, and Canada, as well as Australia. They will partner on a range of marketing activities such as advertising and consumer promotions, digital marketing, public relations and special events.

Further information: http://minister.ret.gov.au/MediaCentre/MediaReleases/Pages

Accessible England

VisitEngland has revealed plans for a national marketing campaign to promote accessible tourism in England. The campaign will be the first of its kind and will see the national tourist board work with Leicester Shire Promotions, Visit Brighton, Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, Bath Tourism Plus and Chester and Cheshire to identify tourism businesses that provide customer and visitor information services for visitors with hearing and visual impairments, wheelchair users, older and less mobile people and people with pushchairs.

Further information: http://www.visitengland.org/busdev/bussupport/access/index.aspx

North Queensland Ecotourism Opportunity

The Queensland National Parks are seeking Expressions of Interest for the commercial management and operation of the Mamu Rainforest Canopy Walk located in the Wooroonooran National Park near Innisfail in Tropical North Queensland. It has also been identified that the $10 million ecotourism facility would be strengthened by the development of additional product, services and infrastructure. Applications close Friday 8 February 2013. Further information: http://www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/tourism/index.html

Further information: http://www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/tourism/index.html


China Theme Park

Plans have been revealed for the development of a China theme park in New South Wales that will feature a grand full-size replica of gates to the Forbidden City, Beijing's Imperial Palace. The planned $500 million attraction will be located within the Wyong region, 80 kilometres north of Sydney will also include a nine-storey temple, a theatre and a royal villa. Wyong Shire Council has signed a deal to sell 15.7 hectares of land to the Australian Chinese Theme Park, the private company behind the proposal. Construction is set to begin in 2015 and be finished by 2020.

Further information: http://www.smh.com.au/travel/travel-news/fullsize-forbidden-city-gates-replica-planned-for-nsw-theme-park-20121204-2arzc.html

Bushfire Business Guide

Tourism Victoria and the Country Fire Authority have developed a quick one-page guide for tourism businesses on how to check Fire Danger Ratings and fire warnings for visitor safety. This easy to follow guide is designed to be a quick reference point for tourism businesses to familiarise themselves with the tools that can be used to stay informed about fire risk and bushfire protocols.

Further information: http://www.tourism.vic.gov.au/images/stories/Stay%20informed%



A new online platform offers hopes to aid creative travellers find work opportunities and employment in a particular location while they are on the move. Worksurfers is based in Colombia and hosts information about short-term assignments that can be applied for by those with talent in the creative industries. Workers can find jobs based on location, type and availability enabling them to continue funding their travels while gaining valuable work experience and skills. Companies posting positions gain an international perspective and access to new talent.

Further information: http://worksurfers.co

Environmental Handbook for Hotels

Since 1993, the International Hotel Environment Initiative has produced the Environmental Management for Hotels manual. Now in its third edition the manual was created to provide practical solutions and guidance on environmental matters accessible to any hotel whatever its size, style or location. Each section starts with an overview of the issue and why it is relevant to the hotel industry and includes handy action plans, guidelines, as well as a host of invaluable case studies and references for where to go for further information and support.

Further information: http://www.tourismpartnership.org/


Whale Shark Ecotourism

Whale shark ecotourism is a growing industry that is providing an alternative to the harvesting of these animals by fishermen to providing an economic incentive for governments to protect the vulnerable species. The first multi-year study at Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia to investigate concerns that tourists swimming with the sharks may have negative effects, suggests that ecotourism when well regulated does not affect whale sharks. The five-year study was funded by Apache Energy Ltd and supported by the Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation, and will provide a blueprint for similar work on the impact of ecotourism on manta rays and whales along the Australian coast.

Further information: http://www.aims.gov.au/

Airlines Food Survey

A new Airlines Food Survey undertaken by Diet Detective has found that of 12 airline menus studied, Virgin America won with the healthiest options in the air, while Allegiant Airlines failed to meet calorie requirements. Other carriers receiving positive ratings for their healthy choices include, Alaska Airlines, United Airlines, Jet Blue Airways and American Airlines.

Further information: http://www.dietdetective.com/columns/annual-airline-survey-2012.aspx


A new mobile app that helps find the most convenient day and time to schedule an international call, video conference, event or meeting has been released by global business travel leader - Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT). The CWT 78 BizDays app was developed in partnership with HEC Paris who conducted research that found approximately one third of the days in a year are holiday free days. Scheduling an international meeting, face to face or by conference call, is challenging in today's global environment. The app was developed to help organise international meetings at the best possible time for participants located in various countries.

Further information: http://www.cwt78bizdays.com/home.do

Global Destination Criteria

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council will select up to 10 destinations to pilot test the second phase of its new Destination Criteria designed to orient destination managers, communities and businesses toward sustaining their natural and cultural assets while benefitting local communities. The first round of early adopters included Fjord Norway; Teton County, Wyoming; Huangshan, China; St. Kitts and Nevis; Lanzarote, Spain; Okavango Delta, Botswana. Deadline for feedback on the current draft criteria is 15 February 2013.

Further information: http://www.gstcouncil.org/sustainable-tourism-gstc-criteria/criteria-for-destinations.html

World's Leading Sustainable Tourism Initiatives are Announced

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has unveiled the twelve finalists for its 2013 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards. Award applications were received this year from 46 countries, representing all continents.
The Finalists of the 2013 Tourism for Tomorrow Awards are:

Destination Stewardship nominees, who have successfully implemented a sustainable tourism programme at the destination level, incorporating social, cultural, environmental, and economic benefits as well as multi-stakeholder engagement:
• Peaks of the Balkans - Municipality of Peja, Kosovo
• Sentosa Development Corporation, Singapore
• Tourism Council of Bhutan, Bhutan

Global Tourism Business nominees, who represent international companies with at least 500 employees, and 8 tourism enterprises in one or more countries, where achievements combine corporate success with sustainable tourism principles and practices:
• Abercrombie & Kent, USA
• Air New Zealand, New Zealand
• ITC Hotels, India

Conservation Award nominees, who have made a direct and tangible contribution to the preservation of nature, including the protection of wildlife, expanding and restoring natural habitat, and supporting biodiversity conservation:
• &Beyond, South Africa
• The Bushcamp Company, Zambia
• Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa, Australia

Community Benefit Award nominees, whose companies and organisations directly benefit local people, supporting community development and enhancing cultural heritage:
• Loola Adventure Resort, Indonesia
• Siraj Center, Palestine
• Ten Knots Development Corporation/El Nido Resorts, Philippines

Further information: http://www.wttc.org/tourismfortomorrow/

Aviation Carbon Conference

The Aviation Carbon conference will take place at the Heathrow Marriott in London from 19-20 February 2013. The program will include presentations on current trends and innovations in journey and emissions offsetting for the aviation industry and carbon sector. Last year's conference attracted over 300 delegates from 62 countries including airlines and business jet operators, as well as 80 other companies from the leading carbon exchanges and brokers.

Further information: http://www.aviationcarbon2013.com/

International Forum for Responsible Tourism

The Second Edition of the International Forum for Responsible Tourism will be held in Bucharest, Romania from 29-31 March 2013. This event aims to create media and communication platforms between experts in touristic field in order to promote this new concept of a responsible tourism in the entire world and reflecting once again the importance of this in a coherent touristic, economic and social development.

Further information: http://amphitheatreconferences.gm.ro/

FACET’s 2013 Conference

FACET's 2013 Conference, Culinary Journeys – All the Tourism Ingredients will bring together the food and tourism industries to explore ways of leveraging each others strengths to create memorable visitor experiences and launch the Southern Forests region as a must visit food and wine destination.

The four day program includes exciting keynotes speakers, interactive workshops, information gathering field trips and will conclude with a community event showcasing produce and culture of the region.

Further information:http://www.facet.asn.au/conference.aspx