According to media sources in Bangkok, a high-tech travel web site, SoutheastAsia.org, will serve as the anchor for a new destination marketing campaign for Southeast Asia.
When launched on January 25, the site will allow users to research, plan, and book multiple-destination trips to and within the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It will also have a special section for travel agents and others in the travel trade.
SoutheastAsia.org is the product of a three-way alliance signed December 9 between Singapore-based Wego Pte. Ltd., ASEAN Tourism Association (ASEANTA), and Bangkok-based ASEAN Competitiveness Enhancement (ACE) Project.
The ACE Project is funded by United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Regional Development Mission Asia. ACE aims to help ASEAN enhance the integration and competitiveness of its travel and tourism sectors.
“One of our strategies for enhancing the competitiveness of ASEAN tourism is to encourage more travel suppliers to participate online to take better advantage of regional integration and marketing efforts,” said ACE project director, R. J. Gurley.
SoutheastAsia.org will feature a content-rich, meta-search capability that will search dozens of sites before presenting results integrated into an interactive map and trip planner. The trip planner is being developed by Wego.com based on its existing meta-search technology.
“The trip planner will draw upon the great variety of bookable flights, hotels, and innovative itineraries that are available in the region,” said Wego’s CEO, Martin Symes.
“Wego is arguably Asia Pacific’s leading travel meta-search company with the broadest range of Southeast Asian content,” Symes added. “With Wego’s distribution channel and supplier-neutral business model, our technology is perfectly suited to serve a multi-stakeholder project such as this.”
Wego and ACE will share the trip planner’s development and integration costs. ACE will cover the web site’s development costs. Wego will host and maintain SoutheastAsia.org on its state-of-the-art servers. Wego and ASEANTA will share the revenues generated by the trip planner.
SoutheastAsia.org is also part of a new strategy designed to showcase the wide variety of travel options available in Southeast Asia, while also helping to raise global awareness of “ASEAN” as a community of nations.
The web site targets international tourists, especially adventurous culture seekers, special-interest travelers, and cruise enthusiasts. It will offer themed feature articles, events, and points-of-interest content, as well as provide a forum for user-generated content, such as travel tips, trip anecdotes, photos, and videos.
“We want SoutheastAsia.org to be the new go-to site of choice for anyone interested in travel to Southeast Asia,” said Felix Cruz, ASEANTA’s chairman and vice president of marketing support for Philippine Airlines. “It is part of our strategy to raise awareness of Southeast Asia as a desirable regional destination relative to Europe, the South Pacific, and the Caribbean.”
Much of the content on SoutheastAsia.org is being built around niche themes such as ecotourism, train travel, cultural sightseeing, and cruising. “Visitors will be able to research, plan, and book experiences ranging from stays in village guest houses, trekking, and mountain biking in the hills, all the way to pampering in luxury beach resorts and spas,” Gurley said.
SoutheastAsia.org will have a soft launch during the ASEAN Tourism Forum, which will take place in Brunei, January 21-28, 2010. During the event, partners will announce a new destination marketing brand and campaign agreement designed to further encourage travelers to visit multiple Southeast Asian destinations, stay longer, and spend more money in the region.