Outdoor lodging operators welcome new trade association

Owners and stakeholders in the outdoor lodging and glamping sector have come together to form the Asia Pacific Outdoor Lodging Association (APOLA), aimed at playing a pivotal role in guiding, promoting, and structuring the burgeoning industry in the region.

This announcement was made at the recent Phuket Hotels for Islands Sustaining Tourism (PHIST).

Outdoor lodging and glamping operators form association to professionalise the increasingly important travel niche (photo by PHIST 2023)

Bill Barnett, managing director of C9 Hotelworks and a founding member of APOLA, outlined the association’s mission. “APOLA’s mission will be to help define the standards for the region, raise awareness, develop an accounting system for project financing, and educate the industry about the advantages of this lower-impact, sustainable hospitality model,” he shared.

The establishment of APOLA comes in response to the surging popularity of outdoor lodging and glamping, fuelled by changing consumer preferences for experiential travel and a desire to connect more closely with nature. The Asia-Pacific region, known for its pristine locations and cultural richness, has witnessed significant growth in this sector. However, it currently lacks comprehensive regulations, general standards, or guidelines.

APOLA aims to become a repository of best practices, offering support to public and private entities seeking to establish standards for outdoor lodgings. Its primary goal is to assist members in providing safe, exceptional, and unforgettable guest experiences while advocating for sustainable practices to reduce environmental impact.

Paul Dean, principal at Dean & Associates international resort development consultancy, emphasised the need for industry collaboration.

“Our immediate priority is to reach out to regional developers and operators to bring them onboard so that our new platform can become a repository of industry knowledge for the Asia-Pacific region,” he stated.

APOLA has already begun engaging with prospective members from diverse locations, from Nepal to Australia, to ensure comprehensive representation of the Asia-Pacific region.

More details on the association will be provided in the coming weeks. APOLA’s next meeting is scheduled for January 15, 2024, during the Thailand Tourism Forum.

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