Malaysian travel and tour operators, and others connected with the tourism sector, can avail of a new Southeast Asian search site soon.
Described as a high-tech travel website, SoutheastAsia.org is being touted as an “anchor for a new destination marketing campaign for Southeast Asia”.
The site, which will be launched on Jan 25, will allow users to research, plan and book multiple destination trips to and within the 10 member countries of Asean.
SoutheastAsia.org will also have a special section for travel agents and others in the travel trade — travel and tour operators are being encouraged to submit content now.
The new site is the brainchild of a three-way partnership between Singapore-based Wego Pte Ltd, the Asean Tourism Association (ASEANTA) and the Bangkok-based Asean Competitiveness Enhancement (ACE) Project.
The ACE Project is funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Regional Development Mission Asia. It 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 chief executive officer Martin Symes.
Wego and ACE will share the trip planner’s development and integration costs. ACE will cover the website’s development costs.
Wego will host and maintain SoutheastAsia.org on 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 website 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.
Chairman of ASEANTA and vice president of marketing support for Philippine Airlines, Felix Cruz, said part of the strategy was 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 conceived and designed 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 on Jan 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.