Messe Berlin (Singapore), organisers of the ITB Asia, the region’s newest travel trade show, have commissioned what is believed to be the first study on the future of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Asia-Pacific travel & tourism industry.
The study is designed to underscore the important role played by the thousands of travel & tourism SMEs in developing creative products, upgrading standards, improving services and facilities as well as job creation and environmental preservation. At the same time, it will outline the challenges they face and the policy options that tourism ministries and national tourism organisations must consider in order to ensure that SMEs not only maintain their qualitative edge but thrive and prosper in a rapidly changing and highly competitive environment.
Dr Martin Buck, Director of Messe Berlin (Singapore), said, “We recognise the SMEs as being vital to the future of Asia-Pacific travel & tourism. Although globalisation has clearly delivered a lot of benefits to the region by driving awareness and brand-recognition, it is the SMEs which provide the Asia-Pacific with a distinctive character.”
Noting that low-cost airlines came from nowhere to transform the region’s aviation industry, Dr Buck said such success stories provide inspiring examples of how small players can overcome the odds and establish themselves via focussed marketing efforts and competitive pricing. However, he noted that global, regional and local crises always tend to affect the SME’s first. “This was clear in the aftermath of both the 1997 economic crisis as well as the December 2004 tsunami. In both instances, governments moved strongly to help the SMEs first, and we want to try and see if these practises can be institutionalised.
“We are already taking a first positive step towards helping the SMEs by offering them a special package to encourage their participation in the ITB Asia, to be held Oct 22-24 in Singapore. We have also created a special website (www.sme-itb-asia.com
“As many are owned and/or operated by former senior executives of large corporations, they know all the tricks of the trade. With the right government support, they will be able to more than hold their own.” The study, claimed to be the first of its kind in the Asia-Pacific, is due for completion in September 2008.