Ten Southeast Asian countries today (January 25) launched a new tourism campaign, “Southeast Asia: feel the warmth” , which features a dynamic new interactive website at SoutheastAsia.org. Tourists in markets such as the UK, Australia, North America, India and Hong Kong are the primary targets for campaign.

‘Southeast Asia: feel the warmth’ will emphasize the welcoming nature of the region’s hospitality and climate

Southeast Asia: feel the warmth , officially unveiled and supported by government ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Brunei today, will emphasize the warmth of Southeast Asia’s hospitality and climate and the diversity of the region’s cultural attractions and tourism activities. The ten participating countries are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

SoutheastAsia.org has been created as the main platform for travelers to research, plan, book and comment upon their holidays in Southeast Asia. The initial focus of the Southeast Asia: feel the warmth campaign is to encourage travelers to submit their own text, videos, comments and reviews to the site. This user-generated content will supplement professionally-sourced content from Lonely Planet, ASEAN’s national tourism organizations, professional travel writers and other contributors. Contestants submitting content can win prizes.

SoutheastAsia.org is already a rich resource for Southeast Asian travel. Lonely Planet has supplied insights and practical information on more than 8,000 travel attractions and things to do in Southeast Asia. Singapore-based travel search engine, Wego, created the integrated map, trip planner, and meta-search engine. Another Singapore firm, Qais, developed the site and will build traveler awareness of SoutheastAsia.org through a sustained e-marketing campaign, which also starts with today’s launch.

'Southeast Asia: feel the warmth' will emphasize the welcoming nature of the region's hospitality and climate

Announcing the campaign today, His Excellency Pehin Dato Yahya, Brunei’s Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, told ASEAN Tourism Forum delegates and media that the new campaign had been built on four principles: “First, the fact that ‘Southeast Asia’ has greater recognition in international source markets than ‘ASEAN’. Second, the trust that online consumers now put in meta-search tools and user-generated content. Third, the importance of authenticity and ‘warmth’ in travelers’ decision making processes. And fourth, the tremendous opportunities that Southeast Asia offers to visitors who are interested in exploring niche themes such as culture, adventure, shopping, ecotourism, island holidays, train travel, spa, culinary experiences, river and sea cruises, and much more.”

SoutheastAsia.org’s key sell point is its ability to allow travelers to compare itineraries and prices from multiple airlines, hotels and tour operators. When the online visitor finds the deal they like most, a simple click transfers them to the travel supplier’s own website for booking.

Mr Felix Cruz, Chairman of the ASEAN Tourism Association (ASEANTA), and Vice President of Marketing for Philippine Airlines, said that the campaign had the supporting objectives of promoting multi-destination travel within Southeast Asia, boosting tourism as a tool to fight poverty in the poorer areas of the region, and helping small and medium-sized tourism enterprises showcase their tourism services to a wider audience.

ACE Project Director, Mr R. J. Gurley, said “We are particularly excited about the boost in demand our theme-based approach to content will bring to niche-focused small and medium sized tourism enterprises throughout Southeast Asia.”

Southeast Asia: feel the warmth was created by the ASEAN Competitiveness Enhancement (ACE) office in collaboration with ASEANTA. ASEAN tourism ministries support the campaign. The region’s national tourism organizations played a key role at each stage of the brand and campaign development. The ACE Project is designed and funded by the United States Agency for International Development.

In January 2009, ACE and ASEANTA signed an agreement to work together on a new branding and marketing campaign that would encourage travelers to visit multiple Southeast Asian destinations, stay longer, and spend more money in the region.

The ASEAN Tourism Association, with support from ASEAN national tourism offices, has since agreed to establish an ASEAN Tourism Marketing Center (ATMC), initially within the ACE Project in Bangkok, to implement Southeast Asia: feel the warmth. The ATMC’s ACE-funded staff will coordinate with Wego and Qais to build awareness of SoutheastAsia.org and handle consumer queries.

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