Impact Publications : MiceBTN_58
Page 56 • MICEBTN - FEBRUARY 2015 An open-door Cuba is a big drawcard for tourism, let’s hope its culture and community are protected MANY Americans are delighted by the news they soon will be able to visit Cuba. It’s a bit like Myanmar’s decision seven or eight years ago to open its borders to international tourism on a large scale, easing documentation and other barriers. While Myanmar has to a large extent retained its cultural integ- rity, Cuba is in danger of being swamped by American corporates with dollar signs glowing as brightly as the neon brand lights they will inevitably bring with them. Myanmar wasn’t immune to this, but its government has kept most global brands at arm’s length. One of the biggest news stories from Myanmar in recent years was the decision by Coca-Cola to resume local production, disap- pointing the entrepreneurs who had long been smuggling stocks of this and other global brands across the Thai border. The Cuban government is adamant that it won’t sell out on its core ideology or governance, but it hasn’t been as determined to stave off the influx of American fast food chains and FMCG brands. It has however been sending signals that it won’t be a pushover. It will be a huge pity if Cuba loses its authenticity, even if it is only bit by bit over years or decades and regrettably, authenticity does have walking wounded status in many countries. On the plus side of the ledger, more government agencies are joining environmental and cultural protection groups, NGOs and visionary individuals to ensure community, culture, lifestyle and family structure and language are not swept away in the name of progress. To the credit of our industry, many resorts, tour companies, airlines and other operators are contributing significantly to this. In this issue, for instance, we’ve a story about a Fijian resort help- ing unemployed youth in the nearby village. Other resorts buy produce, hire villagers to run craft workshops, fund schools and community groups to ensure such knowledge and skill does not atrophy, or underwrite festivities that might otherwise falter. That’s something to be proud of and all the more so because it is mostly done not just willingly but with real enthusiasm. It also tends to involve all staff from gm down to cleaner and not just a head office accountant or pr consultant. Of course, some C&I clients, business travellers and even leisure travellers do little to share the authenticity of a destination, linger- ing in their hotel or resort surrounds and venturing little further than the swimming pool, beach or in-house f&b outlets. Perhaps we have a duty to do more in getting them to partici- pate in the life around them. Authenticity works both ways. - Kelvin King Europe’s transport industry ‘facing major challenges’ THE HEAD of Europe’s Air France-KLM Group says the entire European air transport industry faces challenges of “unprecedented magnitude”. Alexandre de Junier, who is also the group’s chairman, told an Air France-KLM board meeting: “Today, more than ever before, it is essential that Air France and KLM re- main mobilised and work twice as hard to consolidate the group’s European leadership. An interim report called Perform 2020 was presented to the board, which supports management’s proposals and believes Air France and KLM’s road map seeking better competitiveness must be implemented rapidly. Regarding KLM cash management, the board was informed of questions asked by Dutch stakeholders and of guidelines that have finally been endorsed. The board ac- knowledged that the creation of the Air France-KLM Group in 2004 was highly beneficial to both airlines – and more generally to the Netherlands and France. Meanwhile, in its January 2015 traffic results, the group says there was a softening of passenger demand on Africa and Asia, impacting both yield and load factors on these regions. Demand in Asia was affected by the timing of the Chinese New Year. The two airlines carried 5.4 million passengers during the month – up 0.5 per cent. Travel expo registrations open REGISTRATIONS are now open for The Travel Industry Exhibition at the Sydney Exhibition Centre, Glebe Island on 16-17 July. The exhibition is an Australian Federation of Travel Agents Travel Accreditation Scheme (ATAS)-supported event, providing a platform for exhibitors to showcase their products and services. The show is free to attend and those interested in visiting the event are encouraged to register. AFTA general manager Gary O’Riordan said the show was a fantastic opportunity to meet face-to-face with its travel agent community in one central location to network as well as inform, support and share ideas through the sem- inar sessions. “AFTA has chosen to be the industry supporter of The Travel Industry Exhibition – one of the biggest events for our industry. We are delighted to assist in the develop- ment of the education component of the event, which will provide relevant information for travel agents and industry suppliers,” O’Riordan said. Event director Pascal Ibrahim said AFTA’s involvement in the show will provide additional value to attendees, as well as accreditation to the education program. For further information about the show, visit www.trave- lindustryexpo.com.au.