Arabian Travel Market nominates Haiti, Australia, Pakistan and Chile for outstanding contribution to tourism development in the face of overwhelming adversity.
Arabian Travel Market, the leading travel exhibition in the Middle East, has released the names of destinations nominated for this year’s New Frontiers Award, the results of which will be revealed at a special ceremony on the opening day of this year’s event in Dubai (May 2-5).
Launched in 2005 by Arabian Travel Market, The New Frontiers Award has been designed to recognise outstanding contributions to tourism development in the face of overwhelming adversity, helping the chosen destination with an exceptional marketing opportunity by donating exhibition space at the show to the value of US$10,000.
Making the shortlist for 2011 are Haiti, Australia, Pakistan and Chile, all of which suffered devastating natural catastrophes during the past year, according to Mark Walsh, Group Exhibitions Director, Arabian Travel Market – Reed Travel Exhibitions.
“Unfortunately disaster knows no boundaries and time and again we see regions and entire countries suffer economic stress due to the effects of floods, earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural phenomena,” he said. “This often results in further hardship when inbound tourism grinds to a halt and consequently the incomes of those involved in the travel industry are adversely affected, from government tourist boards to street vendors.”
“Too often, devastated regions have to not only clean up and rebuild their communities, but also undertake international marketing campaigns to revive their reputations among the travelling public,” said Walsh.
“This is our way of helping them to help themselves in their time of need, assisting in the creation of necessary positive publicity and a welcoming image in the international spotlight.”
The 2011 nominees have suffered either floods or earthquakes in the past year:
Australia reeling from the aftermath of a tropical cyclone with a series of swollen riverbanks and consequent flooding that began in Central Queensland and moved south and east, flooding the Queensland capital Brisbane as well as an area the size of Germany and France combined.
Following the evacuation of thousands of residents, damage was estimated at more than AUS$10 billion, but within a matter of days further flooding followed in Victoria raising the bill and necessitating a nationwide levy to assist in the clean-up and rebuilding.
Also, at the beginning of February, a second severe tropical cyclone, Yasi, made landfall in Northern Queensland causing a further AUS$3.5 billion structural and agricultural damage and an AUS$1 billion loss to the tourism industry.
In Haiti, efforts to rebuild the Caribbean country after the earthquake early in 2010 are still ongoing, with many of the 1.6 million residents made homeless still awaiting re- housing twelve months on.
Almost one in five Haitians has lost their jobs as a result of the earthquake with a consequent toll on the economy while international aid commitments have been slow to show results, necessitating ongoing efforts to assist the stricken country. Worse still, in the aftermath, a cholera epidemic broke out, hospitalising more than 18,000 Haitians in October alone and claiming over a thousand lives during the same month.
In Chile, the February 2010 earthquake that struck off the coast affected 80% of the population with tremors felt throughout the country and in to Argentina and Peru, but it was the tsunami that followed that was more destructive with damage throughout the Pacific as well as along the Chilean coast.
Electricity blackouts, food shortages and flood damage affected coastal areas, and up to 500,000 houses were made uninhabitable, while the government estimated it would take three to four years for the rebuilding of devastated towns and villages.
Annual floods in Pakistan turned into raging torrents in 2010 with heavy summer monsoon rains contributing to the deaths of 2,000 people, destruction of property, livelihoods and infrastructure affecting 20 million and with one-fifth of Pakistan’s total land area submerged at one point.
Around five million jobs are estimated to have been lost and the loss of cash crops is expected to hit textile exports hard, while agricultural production has dropped 15% and tourism has been badly affected.
Last year, the Philippines received the New Frontiers Award and can surely testify to the benefits when the government used the complimentary exhibition space to great effect, marketing the Philippines as a safe tourism destination, following a typhoon which threw an entire month’s monsoon rain on the country in a period of just a few days, devastating its infrastructure.
Receiving the award, head of tourism for the Middle East, Benito C Bengzon said it was a testament to the strength and resilience of the Filipino people and underlined the determination of the government and stakeholders to resuscitate the tourism industry, enabling them to further promote the Philippines to the Middle East market.
For more information on the New Frontiers Award or Arabian Travel Market 2011, please log on to www.arabiantravelmarket.com.
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