Southeast Asian Tourism Gems Shine in 30th ASEANTA Awards for Excellence 2017

In Photo: The winners of the ASEANTA Awards for Excellence 2017 with Tourism Minister Arief Yahya and ASEANTA Deputy President Sam Cheah

ON August 8 the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) came to a historical turning point as it marked its golden anniversary. Culminating in a gala dinner in Hotel Borobodur’s Flores Ballroom in Jakarta, Indonesia, the event was celebrated in conjunction with the 30th Asean Tourism Association (Aseanta) Awards for Excellence, a yearly celebration that recognizes exceptional artworks and programs that promote tourism development in Southeast Asia, both by public and private groups

Hotel Borobodur in Jakarta is inspired by one of Indonesia’s most iconic temples.

Spearheaded by the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism and Aseanta—a nonprofit tourism organization consisting of public and private tourism organizations—the ceremony gathered over 100 tourism practitioners, media professionals, government officials and Aseanta members from various airlines, travel agencies and hotel chains for a night of festive Indonesian dances and sumptuous fare. Award-winning singers Naura and BE3 also performed during the gala dinner.

The awards brought to the forefront six winning initiatives, with Indonesia winning in three categories.  Garuda Indonesia was awarded Best Asean Airlines Program for its Wonderful Indonesia Travel Pass and Best Asean Cultural Preservation Effort for “Hand Woven Textiles: Preserving a Living Tradition”. The Best Asean Tourism Photo went to Agung Prameswara’s “Tenganan Woman”, which was set in Mount Bromo in Indonesia.

ASEANTA Deputy President Sam Cheah

Other winners include Singapore Airlines SPH Magazine for Best Asean Travel Article (The South East Asia Diaries: Singapore); AirAsia (Malaysia) for Best Asean Marketing and Promotional Campaign (Think Asean, Think Air Asia); and Myanmar’s Shan Yoma Travel and Tours for Best Asean New Tourism Attraction (Puta O, Eastern Himalayan, Myanmar).

“One of the many intiativies of Aseanta is to recognize the effort of the individuals and corporation in promoting Asean as a destination, preservation, connectivity in the region, sustainable development, and more through the Aseanta Excellence Awards,” said Aseanta Deputy President Sam Cheah.

Prior to the ceremoney, an Aseanta meeting and a city administration-hosted dinner were held in Central Jakarta from August 6 and 7, all attended by media, airline professionals, and Aseanta board members.

Jakarta History Museum

Minister of Tourism Arief Yahya shared that the ceremony plays an important role in encouraging business groups in Asean to help improve the tourism industry among nations in the region.

Discovering Jakarta and Borobodur

Collaborating with six Aseanta member-airlines (Garuda Indonesia, Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Royal Brunei and AirAsia), the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism offered attendees a taste of Indonesian hospitality through a familiarization trip, called “Asean @50 Sky Caravan tour”. The post ceremony trip afforded attendees a glimpse into the culture and attractions of Jakarta, Belitung, Bandung, Yogyakarta—Solo, Malang, and Bali over three days.

Traditional Indonesian dances were performed during the awarding ceremony.

“With the support of other member-airlines in Asean region, we were able to launch the inaugural Asean Sky Caravan, an initiative of Aseanta to promote the connectivity of at least two cities in two Asean nations. This inaugural program begins with the innovation of top-producing travel agents and media partners from the United States, China, Japan, Korea, the United Arab Emirates, India, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei Darussalam, Thailand, and Malaysia,” Cheah added.

Our group of journalists from the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia were assigned to Jakarta and Bandung, both among Indonesia’s top-grossing tourist destinations.

As a capital city, Jakarta has an uncanny likeness to Manila, both in infrastrcucture and its people,  that I never felt like I left home. The warmth of Indonesians is an experience in itself. This is specially true if you stay in five-star hotels, like Hotel Borobodur in Jakarta and Crown Plaza Bandung, where the service is as top-notch as its facilities.

Kota Tua is a reflection of Indonesia’s colonial history. This massive complex contains houses and shops of Dutch architecture, as well as the Jakarta History Museum (also known as Fatahillah Museum), which is dedicated solely to well-preserved colonial artifacts. Within the block also lies Museum Wayang, which features different kind of traditional dolls, from minute to lifesize. Don’t miss the famous 132-meter high Monas (National Monument) when you visit, too.

An antidote to busy Jakarta, Bandung in West Java is known for its artistic, relaxed atmosphere and 12 volcanic craters. Graffiti-lined streets are a common sight here, as are young artists who flock to Spasial, a reused warehouse that contains progressive art and clothing shops. On some weekends, Spasial transforms into a platform for artmakers to convene and expose their talents. In Bandung you can also find the Street Gourmet bus, which takes diners around the city while they enjoy a luxurious set menu that is cooked onboard. Also worth visiting are Kampiun Bistro, woodmaking shop Brotherwood, Floating Market Lembang, and Tangkuban Parahu, the only crater in Java that is accessible by car.

Yahya said, “Through this post tour program, I hope you can feel the diversity and uniqueness of Indonesia tourism destinations and share the experience to the world.” In my days in Indonesia, I felt more than that. Having spent time with various nationalities, I saw the tourism gems that make Southeast Asia are not just limited to its destinations. Among its gems are its people. There is much talent and kindness to be found in the region. I hope that the Aseanta Awards for Excellence continues for countless decades to keep citing them.

This trip was hosted by Aseanta, Indonesian Ministry of Tourism and AirAsia.

Image credits: Gretchen Filart Dublin


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