Surprise! More tolerant destinations receive more visitors!

Surprise! More tolerant destinations receive more visitors!

Reuters reported this week that ‘The Legalization of Same-Sex Marriages is Expected to Fuel the Growth of the Travel Industry’. Ensuring equal rights for LGBT people and the positive impact this is having on tourism growth and spending is being most keenly felt in the United States, but other destinations are set to benefit from this boom too.  But what does this have to do with Gen C? 

As lawmakers in the US and elsewhere are quickly discovering, discriminating against people based on their sexuality is quickly going out of fashion. The connected generation simply isn’t bothered. Fuelled by the power of social media to denounce discrimination and show a different side of life to those who live under more repressive political regimes, Gen C is likely to look more kindly on destinations that breathe tolerance and diversity. In the case of LGBT travellers, LoAnn Halden, Media Relations Director of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) explains:


“As acceptance of LGBT rights increases people feel more comfortable being open when they are traveling and more destinations are getting on the bandwagon to market to gay travelers,” Halden explained.  Worldwide’.

Key West in Florida, San Francisco, New York and Provincetown in Massachusetts, which have long welcomed gay tourists, are being joined by new cities, regions and countries.

“The number of people marketing openly has also increased,” Halden added in an interview. “Now we are seeing places like Door County, Wisconsin, marketing to the LGBT community. In South America we are seeing more smaller regional destinations.”

A movement that is gaining traction

The comments caught my eye because they very much echo the principal reasoning that went into a report that I produced with IGLTA in 2012. The UN World Tourism Organization Global Report on LGBT Tourism was the first report ever to be published by a UN agency about the subject. It’s good to see that this is a subject that the wider travel and tourism industry is waking up to, not just in the US but further afield. As I explained at the time:UNWTO Global Report on LGBT Tourism

“The granting of marriage rights for same-sex couples has produced a whole new market segment  and providers in both source countries and destinations have been keen to develop new products  and services to respond to this. It has been observed that when marriage rights are approved, many of the first couples to ‘tie the knot’ are older, consolidated couples who will have different leisure interests to younger, single travellers (until now, arguably the most visible segment in LGBT travel marketing). Similar opportunities are arising to attract gay couples who are increasingly travelling with their own, legally-adopted children.”

As well as making ‘tying the knot’ easier from a legal standpoint, I argued that the act of approving equality legislation gives a massive boost to the brand too:

“Beyond the economic benefits, the approval of legislation in favour of equality for same-sex couples sends a powerful brand image of tolerance, respect, progress and open-mindedness, resulting in an increase in LGBT visitors, among others.”

The IGLTA, which this year celebrates its 31st Annual Global Convention from 8-10 May in Madrid is an important business network that brings some of the world’s biggest names in travel and tourism to learn more about how to work with the LGBT market, and create the right connections in the industry.

You can find a copy of the UNWTO Global Report on LGBT Tourism here, and get more information from and 

Tourism Australia’s smart move to attract new Asian audiences

Tourism Australia’s smart move to attract new Asian audiences

Last week Tourism Australia reported that it had partnered with the South Korean TV network Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS) and two State Tourism Organizations to bring the Korean reality-comedy series ‘Running Man’ to Australia: Running Man - on location in Australia

“Some of Australia’s most stunning scenery and iconic landmarks are providing the backdrop to one of Korea’s most popular TV shows, in a new bid by Tourism Australia to entice more Korean visitors Down Under.

Korean reality-comedy series Running Man has just completed filming in Queensland and Victoria, with the first Australian episode starring Tangalooma Resort, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and Palm Beach airing this week on Korean television screens (…).

This week, fans of Running Man watched contestants compete in Kangaroo suits at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and take a helicopter ride over the Gold Coast. Melbourne’s laneways and surrounds are set to feature as the backdrop for the next episode.

Running Man is the latest project by Tourism Australia enlisting the support of Asian celebrities to promote Australia’s best tourism destinations to Asian consumers, with popular Chinese celebrities Nicky Wu and Ekin Cheng both filming projects in Australia in 2013 and the top rating Japanese celebrity travel show, Tabi Salada, filming an Australian special earlier this month.Running Man

[The series will air] in South Korea in March, followed by China, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Cambodia, Indonesia and Malaysia.”

Making dedicated tourism promotion adverts to air on TV these days costs a fortune. The only time I see them is in the twilight hours on rolling news channels and besides, consumers are far too savvy to swallow what can often look close to being a cheesy propaganda video. Better instead to lure TV and film producers to your country and help them to film the best of what you have with their own means and on their own terms.

Hitting the big-time and reaching potential visitors through the power of film can bring additional benefits too, as these visitors may be more attracted to visit out of high season, and show more desire to connect with other aspects of the destination’s cultural offering, or travel more widely to visit related landmarks. Tourism New Zealand’s work to attract millions of visitors from across the globe to is an excellent example of this.

Tapping into new audiences

Today, Tourism Australia (TA) is looking for opportunities to gain attention in Asia and attract new audiences and South Korea is showing huge potential:

“Visitors from South Korea generated A$1.2 billion in total expenditure in 2012. Tourism Australia estimates that the market has the potential to grow to between A$2.8 billion and A$3.4 billion in total expenditure by 2020″

Running Man should be a good bet, since it has such a huge following across Asia. It has also been translated into English, Spanish, Thai, Vietnamese and Arabic for Hallyu fans, or fans of Korean pop culture of which there are many millions around the world. The combination of game show tension and comedy, fronted by Korean comedy superstar Yoo Jae-suk has won it the appeal of millions of young Koreans.

The power of the road trip movieLazy Hitchhiker's Guide to Europe

When I announced to friends in Europe that I would be coming to live and work in Bangkok for three months, they quickly suggested that my life in the city could pan out like the plot of the film The Hangover III. It’s not just Hollywood audiences that have discovered the crazy side to Thailand through film. Last year, Lost in Thailand was crossed the USD 200 billion mark to become the biggest box office hit for a 3D film in China and has surely awoken the interest of millions of young Chinese to take the trip here.

Similarly, but on a smaller scale, the Lazy Hitchhiker’s Guide to Europe was an amateur film that became highly popular in Korea last year.

Here are some more examples, with related press coverage:

Emerald City cameo in Chinese film bringing tourists to Seattle

China’s romance film boosts tourism in Japan

‘Seediq Bale’: Taiwan’s biggest movie sparks indigenous tourism

Tourists Flock to China’s ‘Avatar’ National Park (PHOTOS)

Essential ITB: ‘Millennials: The Unpredictable Force Shaping the Future of Global Travel & Tourism’

Essential ITB: ‘Millennials: The Unpredictable Force Shaping the Future of Global Travel & Tourism’

The second event I’ll be joining at this week’s ITB Berlin is will be a workshop to discuss disruptive innovation (like services suchLogo_itb_with_claim_english as Airbnb) in travel, and how the more traditional suppliers in the industry can react to it (clue: by innovating and taking lessons from what works elsewhere and shaping up you business, fast!). We’re published in the prestigious ITB Convention Programme ‘The leading travel industry think tank’.

Marti Grimminck, Chief Connector of International Connector  and I will be hosting this session as TravelDisrupt, just two elements of an influential movement aimed at helping tourism and travel providers keep track of emerging trends and adapt their businesses and destinations to emerging Millennial trends. The session promises to be disruptive (in the good sense) and innovative in itself!

Millennials – the unpredictable force shaping the future of global travel and tourism - Brought to you by TravelDisrupt

Friday 7 March, 16:00-16:45, Regensburg room, Hall 4.1 ITB Berlin

Young people have always rebelled, but never has their behaviour gone so far as to turn a whole industry on its head. Why book a bed in a hostel when you can book a bed in someone’s private luxury apartment? Why pay a train fare from Berlin to Dresden when you can hitch a lift for a few euros? The travel and tourism industry today is playing catch up with a demographic that is challenging convention and using technology to get discounts, refund tickets and expose the truth on quality and service. So where does this leave traditional travel and tourism providers? TravelDisrupt, a new partnership of youth travel industry insiders will investigate what the sharing economy can mean for tourism providers.

See you there!

This week at ITB Berlin: ‘The Rise of The Young Asian Traveller’

This week at ITB Berlin: ‘The Rise of The Young Asian Traveller’

This week I’m swapping Bangkok for Berlin, following an invitation to speak at the world’s biggest travel trade show. Every year Logo_itb_with_claim_englishITB Berlin brings over 113,000 trade visitors from 180 countries (no wonder Berlin hotel room prices go up in ITB week!) at Messe Berlin, an enormous trade fair site in the west of the city.

ITB invited me to put together two sessions, and here’s the first:

The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller – Wednesday 5 March 2014, 10am-11am, Hall 4.1 ITB Youth Travel Centre

The rise of Asian economies and the associated boom in international travel has is grabbing the attention of the global travel and tourism community, and many other business sectors besides. This session will present the initial findings of an exciting new report to be released by PATA later this year on young Asian consumer travel trends. Our panel of experts will discuss their impressions of how young Asians’ travel tastes are shaping destination development, and looking at what tourism businesses could do better to welcome young visitors from the region.

Join us to hear what our expert panel has to say!

Moderator:  Peter Jordan, In-house consultant (Gen C Traveller), Pacific Asia Travel Association

Ivy Chee, Regional Director for East Asia, Pacific Asia Travel Association
Dato’ Mirza Mohammad Taiyab, Director General, Tourism Malaysia
Pyung-sup Shin, Executive Director of Overseas Marketing, Korea National Tourism Organization
Thibault Ruffat, Head of European Tourism, Chic Outlet Shopping by Value Retail
Charlie Ballard, Director of Research, TripAdvisor

Speaker logos March 5th ITB

If you’d like to hear about the seminar outcome or to find out more about the report, drop me an email at

PATA launches consumer survey for young Asian travellers

PATA launches consumer survey for young Asian travellers

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is carrying out a major new study on the travel habits of young Asian consumers. All data collected will appear in a new report called The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller, due to be launched by the Association in April. The report will aim to give destinations and travel businesses across the globe a better understanding of how and why they should reach out to young Asian consumers.

PATA Youth travel surveyThe survey, formed with the aid of a focus group of young Asian travellers is open to young people aged 16-35 from the following countries and territories: Brunei, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea (ROK), Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

The survey asks young people about their reasons for choosing a particular destination, the methods they use for gathering information about their chosen destination before departure, and even the frequency with which they use different types of travel apps.

In return for their valuable time and responses, survey participants will be eligible to enter a prize draw for a trip for two to Kuala Lumpur including return flights, or a two-night stay at Aloft Hotel Sukhumvit 11 Bangkok, one of the city’s coolest hotel hotspots.

The survey is now online and will close at 1700 hours (Bangkok) on Friday, March 14, 2014.

Please click on one of the links below to start the survey:

Chinese (Mandarin)

**The initial findings of the report will be presented at a special session called The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller at ITB Berlin from 10:00-11:00 on the main stage in hall 4.1. For all enquiries contact**

The cure for roaming charges, paying for Wi-Fi and carrying heavy guide books…

The cure for roaming charges, paying for Wi-Fi and carrying heavy guide books…

All of the above are still a reality for most travellers, and for some time the writing has been on the wall for each of them. But I never expected to find the solution to them waiting for me when I walked into my Ibis hotel room in Singapore last week. HandyCapture

Ibis have partnered with Tink Labs to distribute Handy, a smartphone rental service for inbound travellers. The smartphones are available in each room and you can start planning excursions, checking maps and most exciting of all, making free local and international calls from the moment you pick it up from your bedside.

Just like walk-in travel agents, tourism commentators have long pondered what the future of printed travel guides will be. I find that guides like Lonely Planet are great to read before departure to give an idea of what to expect, but since the smartphone is today my primary resource for answering any question under the sun, young consumers will increasingly only find real satisfaction and trust in a device, which they can read like the back (or the palm) of their hand.

At this point I must make it clear that I have never had any contact or relationship with Handy, I was simply excited to check out this innovative new service. I was also quite surprised to find it in an Ibis hotel, at the lower end of Accor’s accommodation range. Handy is currently handing out the smartphones with partner hotels and airlines in Hong Kong and Singapore. Anyone can rent them from shops at airport arrival too.

Essentially, the phone (a Google Nexus) offers everything your own smartphone can offer, just with more travel-orientated services. In terms of apps, Google Maps was an obvious favourite, as well as listings for museums, bars and restaurants (subscribers to Handy, I imagine). Other pre-loaded apps included Skype, Kayak, weather, news, local public transport and the Singapore Airlines app.

Information on visitor attractions was well written and more comprehensive than the Lonely Planet guide I’d brought with me. When we wanted to check if the National Museum was open during Chinese New Year, we just tapped the number and gave them a free call.

Gone are the days of the heavy guide bookClearly the device gives the producers great feedback on what travellers are searching for and reading, and gives Google phones some excellent product placement. The battery seemed pretty tough, and meant that I didn’t have to consume my own phone’s battery, or fiddle with Wi-Fi login every time I turned up at a bar or café.

Over the last decade or so, museums and city tourist offices have flirted with iPod Touches, MP3 players and audioguides of every shape and size. Hundreds of city ‘tourist information’ apps are available to download but they don’t always work so well without Wi-Fi. As I see it, the only real way to avoid this frustration is to give the consumer something so similar (or even better) to his/her own device.


Set the ball rolling with a focus group on youth travel in Asia

Set the ball rolling with a focus group on youth travel in Asia

With the task of carrying out a study on the meteoric rise of youth travel within Asia in only three months, the question is: where to PATA youth travel focus groupstart? Fortunately the Pacific Asia Travel Association has a highly motivated and highly capable group of interns from a range of countries in North East and South East Asia who were only too happy to provide their insight.

The session, held in PATA’s own dedicated classroom -created for members to come and learn from each other- threw up some interesting surprises. I showed the students some data that I had gathered from recent studies on the youth market conducted by WYSE Travel Confederation. One of their first observations was how the data seemed to reflect ‘western’ attitudes towards travel. WYSE’s research was thorough, received responses from around the world and has rightly attracted a lot of media and industry attention, especially from the highly-developed youth travel industry in Europe and the US.

However, one of the reasons PATA has decided to look at the Asian market more closely is the notion that many societal attitudes towards travelling (not least the acceptable amount of time to dedicate to such activity, and sources of income to spend on travel) vary so Peter Jordan - PATA youth focus groupdifferently from those in Europe and North America.

Our mini focus group discussed travel habits, connectivity through different devices, and what sets apart different nations in our study area (the ASEAN nations, plus China, Japan and Korea) in terms of young peoples’ availability and interest in travelling. They also proved to be an excellent resource for the most popular websites used in their respective countries, plus quirky anecdotes about travel habits not typically expected of the youth market (for example, ‘student travel’ from some rich Chinese students can mean arriving in a foreign country, buying a Mercedes Benz and driving to the nearest luxury resort).

The ideas generated in this session will feed into a survey which will be launched across the PATA network and beyond, with the aim of collecting responses from students and young professionals across Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Lao, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

Stay posted for the launch of the survey which is sure to offer some great prizes in exchange for your opinion on youth travel in Asia!