Impact Publications : MiceBTN_65
MICEBTN - DEC 2016 - FEB 2017 • Page 13 comment Getting it right and getting it wrong – our industry knows how FIRST, assume a disaster strikes, either natural or man made. Emergency services swing into action and information is shared with those immediately involved or in jeopardy. By and large the system works. Almost at the same time, some in our industry start looking on the bright side. That’s understandable. If you’re a regional or national tourist office, a MICE marketing agency, an airport operator, airline, hotel, PCO, DMC or other stakeholder, you don’t want your visitor traffic turned off by OTT instant 24/7 shock-horror news coverage on tv, radio and on line. But industry voices should not say within hours that it’s ‘business as usual, don’t be worried, come and you’ll be welcomed’. This happened in the case of NZ’s recent earthquake. A number of agencies circulated messages saying it was ‘just another earth- quake, localised, sad but containable’. While there was some truth in what they said, it was well shy of reality. Wellington, for example, was in much worse shape than first assessed, leading to building demolitions, closed roads and other disruptions. But it’s not always that way. Christchurch Airport offered a text- book response following that city’s Big One in February 2011. Its executives explained calmly that things looked OK at the airport but they were going to check and double-check, allowing only emer- gency aid flights for a while. Back in full action later they confident- ly said that although the city was munted (ie, destroyed), the airport as a portal was OK and much of the South Island was too. The airport’s executive did the right thing and travellers and the industry alike welcomed the way they handled the disaster. Their pause - to get all the information and put it in perspective – was a lesson for everyone in the same position. Second, on a related topic: If there’s a time to pause, there’s also a time to speak. And some of us aren’t doing it well. There’s a tendency for some in our sector to either not reply to phone calls and emails or to take such a long time that the query is obsolete. Too much email, they say, call you back, I’m on the way to the airport, in a train and can’t hear you properly... It’s not just polite to respond to inquiries, there’s a reason for each attempted contact and we should respond promptly. It’s called doing business. - Kelvin King Astana switches focus to MICE and medical tourism ASTANA’s Astana akimat (its city administration) is to focus on events and business and health travel, according to Marat Igaliyev, director of the Kazakh Ministry for Investments and Devel- opment’s Department of Industry and Tourism. In 18 years, the number of hotels in the Kazakh capital has grown by 400 per cent, visits by foreign tourists have increased by more than 500 per cent and domestic tourism has increased by 430 per cent. “In 2013, a master plan for the development of the tourism industry in Astana was created in view of EXPO 2017. We have also presented the concept of tourism development in Astana until 2020 and the city’s brand will be selected next year,” said Igaliyev. “If we compare Astana using tourist arrivals per 1,000 inhabitants as the measure, then we are on the same level as cities such as Seoul and Istanbul. “The city has important prerequisites that will help us develop tourism in the future. We will focus on the development of business, event and medical tourism.” To ensure a constant flow of tourists, seasonal activities now are being planned, such as a snow and ice festival in the winter and an outdoor world championship of quadrocopters in the spring. Astana also is developing a network of modern medical centres and it is hoped they will encour- age medical tourism. The capital is also actively working to prepare the city for EXPO 2017. Infrastructure development includes a ‘pedestrian orientation system’ with signs, pylons and red tourist buses and self-service terminals. A lot of attention is being paid to the study of English, with information centres on the English language and employee training at no cost.