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Monday, January 30, 2023

ITB-ASIA VIRTUAL 25-28 October, 2021

Traveling will never be the same as pre-COVID-19 epoch.

Traveling is all about human-led experiences and industry players will have to seek a balance to make the experience worth as technology is on its course to shape the future of travel.

While localization is the new global, international travel is gradually picking up. Vaccinated travelers however confused as to where to travel overseas with frequent changes in requirements issued by the governments, rising cost of travel, uncertainty with rising COVID-19 cases, keeping an update on protocol, getting familiar to use of technology, cost of multiple vaccination requirements on arriving destination, high cost of insurance – all these factors causing a restrain in travel experiences to begin.

Experts opine that international travel may become normal by 2024 at 26% pre-pandemic level.

The role of travel media will play a significant role in restoring consumer confidence through content marketing. It is the responsibility of Industry players to collaborate and support content creators in producing tale telling content to promote destinations and tourism products                     



Berlin Brandenburg Airport BER (ITB-Asia 2021 Elite Partner)                                        “Travel and tourism plays an indispensable ingredient to world’s overall economic health. Few, if any, industries generate jobs and commerce like our industry. Yet we are facing unprecedented challenges. In this welcome remarks, Aletta highlighted on Europe and Berlin getting ready for the opening of the markets and the return of the travelers. “Traffic and people are returning. Dear friends and delegates . . . I would be delighted to welcome you to Berlin and of course the BER”. Massenbach


Saudi Tourism Authority (ITB-Asia 2021 Elite Partner)

Abdullah Zarea, Associate Director – International Market,

Bedour Alhararbi, Senior Manager – International Exhibitions

“Saudi Arabia is ready to become the new tourism force of the region. The Kingdom has been focusing on opening up to the world, to showcase its great diversity, hidden treasures and natural beauty, to highlight its positioning as the true, authentic home of Arabia. As one of the final frontiers of leisure tourism, Saudi is ready for travelers wanting to discover an unexplored, uncharted destination”.


Gearing up for Recovery under the New Normal and Redefining Hotel Experiencing.

Experts in hotel business including Hotel Beds, World Hotels, Centara Hotels & Resorts, IHG, BWH, Marina Bay Sands highlighted key issues on hotel business, which will be different than ever before. Hotels and other industry players will be required to reassess their processes, innovate and adapt to a New World Order.

Extended-Stay segment has already paved the way towards recovery. The beginning of 2022 is likely to build up traveler’s confidence. Hotels will be primarily focused on health and hygiene and seek the opportunity to attract domestic and regional markets. Health protocols will continue to be applied and observed until conditions gradually improve. Hotel renovation will include introduction of QR check-in system, key less entry into the rooms via mobile and cash-less check-out. Hotel sector also rely on Government policies and entry requirement. Since the Sandboxes program in Thailand, hotels reported returning travelers, though fewer arrivals. As travel re-emerge, food and restaurants is faced with a challenge to re-define strategies and business models of food tourism to adapt to New Normal.

Speakers included: John Flood, CEO Archipelago International; Paul Town COO, Marina Bay Sands; Markland Blaiklock Deputy CEO Centara Hotels & Resorts; David Kong President & CEO BWH; Jean-Michel Petit Co-founder and CEO at Eatwith.


Experience is everything. Destination attraction with a Responsible Tourism approach, varied travel itineraries, travel activities and clean accommodation is what it takes to a memorable travel experiences.

Travel agents and tour operators (DMCs) foresee challenging times through the present chaotic landscape, seeking a balance through digitalization while maintaining a personal touch. DMC’s performance depends on a multitude of external factors – including hotels, guides, transportation and other services – many of which have to run seamlessly altogether to deliver a perfect travel experience. While integrating technology to ensure a quick and easy experience, digitalization must not change the business model.

Handling of flights by directly connecting with the airlines, Immigration, border controls will be of much concern to travelers and their travel agents.

Never before a consumer travel in need of care and assistance from the industry players from beginning of the journey on home-ground through to home-bound flight. The government need to play a responsible role in making ease of entry, visa requirements and through incentive like free visa, say in the first half of 2021. While some destinations phase out quarantine fully or in part by the last quarter of 2020, global phasing out of quarantine is anticipated by October 2022. Nearly two years on, the travel industry is starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, as vaccination programs are rolled out and countries shift to a mindset of living with COVID-19 as an endemic virus.
Travel in the ASEAN – Asia Pacific

With the gradual lifting of restrictions and establishment of various travel models, from Sandboxes programs (Phuket, Samui and Krabi in Thailand) to Vaccinated Travel Lanes, the time has come for conversations to shift toward the factors that will impact the resumption of pre-pandemic travel. A buoyant recovery for a sustainable future of travel in the region is dependent on the policies and choices the governments and industry players make today to gain travelers confidence through resourceful information and incentives. HTS International Travel in Viet Nam offered Invitation Visit HCM city to ITB-Asia delegate.

 China – A Case-Study to Travel Recovery

China has reported more than 90% recovery rate, “Ever since May 2020, China has experienced fast recovery of travel and tourism and saw total 637 million trips during the Golden Week holiday in the beginning of October when domestic flights and hotels experienced the level of traffic surpassing that of 2019.

May holiday 2021 reconfirmed the complete recovery of hotel and tourism within China. The significant number of MICE events taking place across China successfully proved COVID-19 can be overcome with the right measures”. Dr. Adam Wu CEO, CBN Travel & MICE.

Sanya has been running 90% occupancy since July 2021.

Maldives – a small island destination has been a success story on international arrivals that exceeded targeted arrivals of 500,000. With a negative PCR test certificate, there was no quarantine requirement, and during a certain phase, visitors received free COVID vaccination on arrival.

Pakistan has its doors open for international visitors without quarantine (with exceptions), however, except for mountaineering expeditions, not many travelers visited due to lack of information, marketing drive and difficult visa processing. Domestic tourism has risen with a record 7 million local travelers, however causing a serious toll on natural environment and a mushroom growth of blemish infrastructure.

Turkey has been opened for international tourism to vaccinated travelers without quarantine, except for a few countries), recording 12.7 million visitors.

Re-Sailing & Recovery – The Future of Cruise Holidays

Cruise line sector has been navigating through the Industry’s greatest crisis.

People’s demand and desire for travel remains strong, but the fear of COVID-19 is changing how they approach the trips cued on government restrictions and border control. Insights on how cruise companies can explore new business strategies and technologies, assure health and hygiene and to facilitate safe travel.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) analysis issues and find solution arising from cruising, address challenges raising consciousness to care for environment and culture.

Dream Cruises has resumed operation with World Dream in Singapore, Genting Dream in Hong Kong and Explorer Dream in Taiwan. However, with borders closure and local Government regulations, these cruises are currently only applicable to local residents and the responses have been encouraging.Dream Cruises safe-cruising guide and travel advisory: https://campaign.dreamcruiseline.com/2021/campaign/safe-cruising-guide/en.html


Participation & Speakers including:

John Brown CEO & Timothy Hughes VP Corporate Dev., Agoda; Min Yoon, CEO-Founder, Tidesquare ASIA PACIFIC TRAVEL TRENDS; Tod Handcock, President, Asia Pacific & Global Board Member. Collinson; Tadashi Shimura President JATA; Laura Houldsworth, MD & VP, Asia Pacific, Booking.com; Eddy Soemawilaga President ASEANTA; Hamish Keith, CEO, EXO Travels; Julia Simpson President & CEO WTTC; Michael Goh President Genting Cruise Lines; Ben Angell President & CEO Norwegian Cruise Line NCL; Kelly Craighead President & CEO, CLIA; Robin Deller CEO, Imagine Cruises.


Beyond Hybrid – The Future of Experiential

The President Mr. Chiruit Isarangkun Na Ayuthaya of Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) shared his insights on Plan for 2022 and Beyond – What to Factor In.

He discussed shared responsibility to bring MICE back to life with the opening of Thailand for fully vaccinated travelers from low and medium risk countries under protocol. Health safety will be a big concern. New MICE Cities were developed in Thailand 4 years ago.

He emphasized on “role of MICE in relation with wellbeing – a long term commitment and success will arrive from your support and collaboration”, said khun Chiruit. www.tceb.or.th

Beyond Hybrid – The Future Of Experiential

Anna Patterson, VP & MD, George P. Johnson (Singapore) P. Ltd. Experience Marketing discussed a perspective on building for a future beyond hybrid. While it will be essential to employ technology in every sector of the Industry, human touch will remain an integral part of travel, tourism and hospitality.

Hybrid Events and Creating Human Connections

According to Markletic. Jeff Guberman has over 25 years of experience creating human connections through event management, production and design; 81% of event organizers say that networking capabilities are a key contributor to audience satisfaction of hybrid events. Jeff shared “the importance of bringing the human connection to Hybrid Events with storytelling . . . how to keep the personal element in your hybrid events with customized videos, engaging breakout sessions and intentionally curated virtual and live attendee journeys”.


Miho Nakatsugawa, MICE Sales & Promotion Department, Business Event  Team, Yokohama Convention & Visitors Bureau

Yokohama is the location of choice for hundreds of internationally minded companies and is a hub of academia and research. Organizations and businesses choose to be based in Yokohama because it is a place where ideas come together, where alliances can be forged and where the innovative is every day.

“Located right next to Tokyo, Yokohama is much spacious and greener. It’s a refreshing and relaxing city. Yokohama is the first port open to the world in 1859 so since then Yokohama has a multi- cultural atmosphere”.

On 30 September 2021, Japan uplift the State of Emergency for Tokyo, Osaka and 17 prefectures including Yokohama. Japan announced 66% (14 October, 2021) population fully COVID vaccinated. The City offers excellent Accessibility; All-In-One Convention Area and Venue; Wonderful Tourism Opportunities. Near by the Convention center, a state of the art shopping complex also comprising restaurants and bars. The City has a variety of accommodation to choose from luxury including the unique Kahala Hotel, Intercontinental to mid-range hotels. Watch video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwfYo-R3rdo&t=583s

Report By: E-Travelers Club travel update, Founder: Saifuddin Ismailji

Photo Courtesy: ITB-Asia 2021

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