Who TTG Asia reporters want to have a good chat with, part 2

Meet Team TTG Editorial, the hands and (often crazy) minds that feel compelled to bring you the latest industry scoops and thought-provoking analyses. Ever wonder what they’re so frantically scratching into their notebooks? Well, here’s a peek into Reporters Notebook 2017– you might just find yourself in there

Adelaine Ng, correspondent, Australia

Hardest assignment in 2017
It would have to be one of my first ones and that was covering AIME, the annual Asia-Pacific travel trade event held in Melbourne in February. I had just started writing about the industry and found out my fellow writers weren’t kidding when they said it would be a steep learning curve. I entered an exhibition centre bustling with 4,000 suppliers and events planners under one roof. It was chaotic, noisy and rather intimidating for a newbie trying to get her head around it all and trying to meet deadlines for the day.

One industry expert you’d love to chat with in 2018
Over the next few months, the importance of the travel industry to state and national economies would become increasingly evident to me as I covered stories for TTG. Which is why if there was one industry expert I could have a lunch chat with, it would be Australia’s Tourism Minister Steven Ciobo to ask why the government chose to cut its tourism budget by A$14 million (US$11 million), much to the bewilderment of industry leaders.

 

Marissa Carruthers, correspondent, Cambodia

Hardest assignment in 2017
Living in the rapidly modernising Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, it can at times be easy to forget the country’s recent tragic history. However, stark reminders hide around every corner. Carrying out interviews for my feature on dark tourism in the country was hard – not in the sense that is was challenging to write, more emotionally tough as I was interviewing Cambodians about a sensitive part of their past and their views on preserving and developing these sites.

(Editor’s Note: This article won us an award from the Media Publishers Association Singapore.)

One industry expert you’d love to chat with in 2018
Willem Niemeijer, founder/CEO of Khiri Travel, who I consider to be a pioneer of authentic eco-experiences across South-east Asia. Having evolved from a small room in a Bangkok shophouse in 1993 to operating in eight countries across Asia, scouring out the best off-the-beaten trips that have helped countless underprivileged communities, I’d be excited to see what 2018 has in store for the forward-thinking Niemeijer and his innovative embodiment of sustainable tourism.

 

Caroline Boey, senior correspondent, China and special projects

Hardest assignment in 2017
Emails in English go unanswered most of the time and until I brush up on my Chinese writing skills all assignments are “hard”. But thanks to WeChat, I usually get a fairly quick response to my English text and Chinese audio messages. Its translation function is also super helpful.

One industry expert you’d love to chat with in 2018
China National Tourism Administration chairman Li Jinzao would probably be too busy, so perhaps vice chairman Du Jiang, who is responsible for the department of tourism promotion and international liaison and tourism research. I would like to ask him about China’s destination marketing and growth strategy. I think it will be a long interview.

 

Prudence Lui, correspondent, Hong Kong

Hardest assignment in 2017
My hardest assignment in 2017 was a 3D2N trade fam on Genting Dream. Firstly, this was my first ever overnight cruise and I was even more daunted by the sheer size of the ship.

Then, it became about focusing on work when you are in a relaxing environment with a robust programme. And there was free Wi-Fi access onboard, which meant I had no excuse to unplug. But the hardest part was identifying new cruise agents from Taiwan and China. I had to work against time and track them down during two business sessions before they disperse to enjoy themselves in different corners of the ship. Despite these issues, it ended up being a good learning experience for me as well as a pleasant sea excursion.

One industry expert you’d love to chat with in 2018
H.P Kong, founder of homegrown Lotus Tours which just celebrated its 60th anniversary in September. A humble businessman with a sharp mind and great foresight, he grew the company from one table and one telephone to nearly 500 staff today. A well-respected boss and trade partner, Kong is over 90 years old but remains active and works every day. Pity he was too busy to chat for long at his company’s anniversary dinner. But he did muse to me that while he’s no longer involved with the business, “old soldiers never die, they just fade away”. I hope to pick up where we left off and get more of his inspiring wisdom.

 

Rohit Kaul, correspondent, India

Hardest assignment in 2017
The destination report on Rajasthan I did for TTG India. The format requires interviewing a tourism board official. While I managed to set an interview up with the joint managing director of the tourism board, this only materialised very close to the deadline.

One industry expert you’d love to chat with in 2018
It would be Himmat Anand, founder, Tree of Life Resorts & Hotels. Beyond his vast experience in the tourism domain, he is one of the few in the industry that has a clear understanding of what is required to take forward the tourism and hospitality industry in India. He is one who never minces his words and is rational in his observations. His witty sense of humour will add to the conversation surely. Also, it would be nice to find out how his boutique inventory manages to command a premium rate at a time of discounting.

 

Julian Ryall, correspondent, Japan

Hardest assignment in 2017
South Korea’s tourism industry has been hit catastrophically by the ban imposed by the Chinese government on its travel agents selling tours to Korea due to the political row over Seoul’s defensive missiles. Travel companies that have relied on Chinese business are sinking like stones. It’s hard to find industry insiders willing to speak about the difficulties they face – and I am sure that hearing about companies that took years to build going to the wall would be equally harrowing.

One industry expert you’d love to chat with in 2018
Japan’s travel sector is booming at the moment, and is expected to continue on that upward trajectory for at least the next couple of years thanks to the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. But what happens when the last Olympic tourist goes home after the games? I would like to sit down with the head of Japan National Tourism Organization and find out what measures they plan to implement to make sure the sector continues to grow. I worry that there is an assumption that figures will simply continue to climb. I’m not sure that can be taken for granted.

 

Rosa Ocampo, correspondent, The Philippines

Hardest assignment in 2017
While the Department of Tourism (DoT) has become more accessible, it is prone to organising press conferences at the last minute – a day or two and even a few hours before the event.

Also, it’s not easy to be objective when top DoT officials show lack of discretion, which seemed the case in some photos that recently surfaced.

One industry expert you’d love to chat with in 2018
I’d ask former tourism secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr to look back on his tenure – highest points, what he could have done differently, regrets, if any. I’d like to know how he would have addressed the current tourism crisis, his opinion on attempts to ditch the It’s More Fun in the Philippines slogan which was adopted during his term.

 

Feizal Samath, correspondent, Sri Lanka

Hardest assignment in 2017
Without any doubt, it was covering PATA’s annual summit in Sri Lanka in April. The day started badly. Driving 35km from Colombo to the coastal town of Negombo where the meeting was being held, I encountered a flat tyre on the way, resulting in a delayed arrival.

Flustered, sweaty and scrambling to play catch-up, I tried to cover all the presentations in a pennywise-pound-foolish route and rue the day I did it. The copy was weak, lacked depth and variety, resulting in an unforgettable shelling from my editor. Me, a 35-year-old veteran in journalism, being unable to cope? Well we are all learning, even experienced hands (we think we know everything).

One industry expert you’d love to chat with in 2018
Dileep Mudadeniya, vice president-brand marketing at Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts.
Having served in state-run tourism agencies, appointed Sri Lanka’s tourism representative in France at just 31 years of age, and now heading brand marketing at Sri Lanka’s largest hotel chain, Dileep has seen it all from both sides of the spectrum (public and private).

 

Ade Siregar, correspondent, Indonesia

Hardest assignment in 2017
My hardest assignment in 2017 was doing the charter flights story. There were some charter flights coming to different parts of Indonesia from China and India. But I found that it was difficult to get the right information on whether this is a charter flight or a regular flight? Or did this use to be a charter flight that became a regular flight? The information was so hazy that I have to do a lot of cross checks to get it right.

One industry expert you’d love to chat with in 2018
I would like to sit down with Louis D’Amore, founder and president of International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT). He has been promoting the travel and tourism industry as the world’s first ‘Global Peace Industry’.

With all the tragedy that has been happening in the world – including places where people spent their getaway this year – how can he and his institution help to bring a peaceful and sustainable world?

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