Spent Monday morning at Batu Caves. It is an incredible site, enormous caves in a large cliff. Two hundred seventy-two steps to the top, with more after you get there. Lots of bats flying around and lots and lots of monkeys.
Once you climb to the top you find Hindu temples inside. It is an impressive site and impressive experience.
The actual conference began last night with an opening ceremony and the opening of the exhibit floor (40 booths, companies from the U.S., Canada, Europe and, of course, all through the Asia-Pacific region.
The conference sessions are officially underway today (the weekend was spent in ACI World board meetings). I’m listening now to Greg Duffell, President and CEO of PATA (Pacific Asia Tourism Association). It is an excellent presentation; and he has a lot to talk about given that this region is the world’s only economic hot spot.
Of all his points, two stand out for me. One, tourism is a major generator of wealth transfer from “haves” to “have nots”. Think about it, tourists have disposable income and spend it in places that flow to many folks who have much less income; people who work in hotels and restaurants, at tourist attractions and at stores and businesses. These are people with much less income and they rely on the economic impact of tourism to support their families. That’s why the inclination of some to denigrate tourism and travel in tough times really rankles, the ones who pay the biggest price are those who least can afford it.
The other is that tourism, in tough times, relies on a cut rate model to stimulate traffic and business. Duffell said that this works fine if the recovery comes quickly and you can move away from cut rates before they put you out of business. But in slower recoveries, the cut rate model is dangerous.
The overall mood here is good, but cautious. Much like we found at our North American conference three weeks ago in Austin