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ITB Asia 2009 to Feature Report on Helping Travel Related SMEs

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ITB Asia 2009 is maintaining its focus on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the travel and tourism industry by issuing a report on the responses by Asia Pacific national tourism organisations (NTOs) to the challenges facing their respective SMEs.

Dr Martin Buck, Director of Messe Berlin (Singapore), said, “It is apparent that the recent global financial crisis has had a significant impact on travel and tourism SMEs. In all countries, there is general acknowledgement that SMEs comprise the bedrock of the travel and tourism industry.”

Dr Buck noted that at the inaugural ITB Asia 2008, a report was issued outlining the importance of SMEs in Asia Pacific travel and tourism. That report also issued some recommendations on ways in which Asia Pacific’s NTOs can refocus their strategies and policies towards helping SMEs.

“That first report was more general in nature. This year, it is time to follow that up with something more specific,” said Dr Buck.

"The survival of the travel and tourism SMEs is very important to us. We believe they are producing some of the most creative, innovative products and services in the Asia Pacific region. There is no doubt they are being affected by some serious external issues. We have to do everything we can to help them," he added.

Positioned as “The Trade Show for the Asian Travel Market,” the 2nd ITB Asia takes place 21-23 October at the Suntec Singapore Exhibition & Convention Centre.

 It will be attended by travel companies representing business travel, conferences, meetings, incentive trips, leisure groups and special events and is definitely not an event to be missed.

This year's SME report, like the one in 2008, will be compiled by respected Thailand-based travel editor, Mr Imtiaz Muqbil. It will offer a comprehensive round-up of the various efforts being made by regional NTOs and other social, financial and economic arms of governments to help the SMEs in the wake of the global financial crisis.

According to Mr Muqbil, “Regional NTOs have had to snap to attention because the ripple-effect of the financial and various other crises, such as swine flu, has been felt in the grassroots of society and affected the most vulnerable, low-income people.

“That defeats the purpose of developing the tourism industry in the first place. NTOs have always claimed that their tourism plans are driven by the need to benefit rural areas and distribute earnings in a more fair and equitable way.”

“Because governments realise that economic problems at the lower-income levels of society can quickly translate into wider social and political problems, a lot of work is being done to support SMEs through low-interest loans, training programmes, access to marketing opportunities, and much more,” Mr Muqbil added.

“I am working to compile all these efforts and activities into one comprehensive report that can be used as a reference for the benefit of everyone. There is a lot that both the public and private sectors can learn from each other. That is what the report is intended to do.”

The report will be presented at the ITB Asia and later issued publicly free of charge.

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