ASEAN Tourism Association (ASEANTA) and ASEAN Competiveness Enhancement (ACE), an organization funded by USAID, introduced a new marketing campaign “Southeast Asia—Feel the warmth.” Despite the fact that all of the organizations that represent this ten-country region incorporate the ASEAN acronym, those who were researching a new brand discovered that most people had no idea what ASEAN represented and did not associate ASEAN with Southeast Asia.
The tourism component of the ASEAN Competitiveness Enhancement (ACE) project, funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), saw only 200 from the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) 1,300 members turn up to hear a how they could sign up for free websites and low-cost online booking transactions recently. ATTA Vice President Mr Sangiam Ekachote said the dismal turnout to traffic disruptions caused by ongoing political unrest in Bangkok.
The US$8 million ACE project is to build competitiveness in ASEAN’s tourism and textiles industries. About US$4 million of the 2008 to 2013 ACE budget goes to a campaign called “Southeast Asia: Feel the warmth” built around a consumer website that will drive tourist bookings to the 10 countries of ASEAN.
ATTA members lamented that the concept of a free website sounded attractive but the final decision would depend on details. Unless all the points related to the doing-business and support systems are answered, they did not think it would gain any significant pick-up in Thailand.