Saturday, October 19

Tourists more demanding and fragmented in their holidays

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KOTA KINABALU: Tourists now are more demanding and fragmented in their holidays, said Booz & Company senior vice president Dr Jurgen Ringbeck.

Making Tourism Work: (From left) Ringbeck, Warren, Minister of Tourism Malaysia Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen, session moderator cum World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Valere Tjolle, Wee and Ong in a group photo after the keynote speeches.

Instead of taking one or two holiday trips a year, Ringbeck said tourists now preferred splitting their holidays by taking shorter trips two to five times annually.

He added that tourists also looked for variety in their holidays, which could be a mixture of adventure, five-star experience and sports in a single trip.

Hence, Ringbeck stressed the need to sharpen brand positioning and creating unique experience for customers.

“We are also seeing more young Asians and baby boomers on holiday,” he added while speaking at the World Tourism Conference 2010 at the Magellan Sutera here yesterday.

Another factor tourists were looking into was environmental sustainability in their holiday trips.

Pollutions and carbon footprints were among the factors that tourists would take into account, he said.

Ringbeck also talked on the the increased pressure in price, which included the cost of energy.

“In the early days, fuel accounted for 10 per cent of the airline cost, now it has gone up to 25 per cent and we expect it to reach up to 40 per cent in the next 20 years.”

Meanwhile, director of Making Tourism Work Associates Susan Warren, the first keynote speaker of the day, stressed the importance of branding and managing a country’s reputation to the tourism industry.

She said country branding encompassed politics, trade, tourism, culture and community with the aim to improve its reputation in order to drive economic value and sustainable practices.

“Branding requires researching on the country’s image, evaluate its strengths and weaknesses, then build and communicate differentiating and winning characteristics.”

She added that developing a country brand also requires identifying gaps between a country’s reputation and its actual capabilities and addressing the gaps with a programme that better communicate what the country has to offer.

Nonetheless, Warren cautioned that  reality must live up to  expectations.

Warren further revealed that statistics from UNWTO showed an average age of national brand was five years old.

“However, more than one third of the countries had branding more than 10 years old, and around 12 percent redesigned their branding in less than a year.”

The conference also included a presentation on Visit Malaysia Year 2007 campaign which was delivered by secretary general of the Ministry of Tourism Malaysia Datuk Dr Ong Hong Peng and the chairman of Tourism Malaysia Datuk Dr Victor Wee.

In the Visit Malaysia Year campaign launched in 2007, 50 major events were held to coincide with Malaysia 50th National Day celebration.

The event-based campaign not only included marketing efforts to tourists, but also domestic campaign to improve Malaysians’ hospitality.

“A massive training programme was held for the frontliners, taxi drivers, government department officials and hotel personnel.

“We have trained more than 200,000 people,” Wee said.

Following the success of the campaign, Ong said the way forward would be continuous marketing and promotion, developing human resources, ensuring the quality of services as well as creating innovative products to attract repeat visits.