Harley-Davidson throttles into #Cambodia

Harley-davidson, the iconic and globally recognised US motorcycle manufacturer, will soon be roaring into Cambodia with the country’s first dealership set to open in the next few months.

Located across from the Phnom Penh International Airport, the Harley-Davidson dealership is expected to open this June, according to Steve Beattie, general manager of Harley-Davidson Phnom Penh. The franchise rights for Harley are owned by HGB Group, a local investment firm that already has a foothold in the Kingdom’s luxury motorcycle and automotive market.

Beattie was quick to note that the famous motorcycle line is more than just a brand name and has over the decades evolved to invoke a lifestyle among avid Harley-Davidson riders worldwide. He hopes that the showroom will act not only as a dealership but provide a place for riders and enthusiasts to gather before cruising on the Kingdom’s roads.

“The whole point with Harley-Davidson is that it is not purely motorcycle focused,” he said. “When you buy a Harley-Davidson, you then make it your own. You will spend time, thought and money on making that bike something that is very personal for you.”

Cambodia already has a few Harley-Davidson riders who are well acquainted with the brand and they will form the company’s core customer base, Beattie explained. The group will then primarily target the more affluent segment of the population who can afford the costs of high-end motorbikes and gear, he added.

“We are tapping into an existing market with the existing riders because they are our core customers,” he said. “They are the guys that have supported the brand in Cambodia despite not having a dealership, but obviously we also want to broaden that appeal and we want to encourage new customers.”

The dealership will be comprised of a shop offering a wide array of Harley-Davidson motorcycles as well as brand merchandise, accessories, spare parts, riding gear and a full-service mechanic that will be able to handle customisation demands.

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Indonesia – Youth organization to help promote tourism in East Java

Generasi Pesona Indonesia (Indonesian Charms Generation) or GenPI is an organization of youth volunteers who aim to promote tourism in their respective localities through social media.

Partnering with the Tourism Ministry, GenPI has established five local chapters across Indonesia.

A sixth to be added to the list is that of East Java, which will make an official debut at the Majapahit Travel Fair 2017 this May.

Read also: Digital promotion to boost tourist arrivals

“Tourism is the future of this nation and allows Indonesia to compete globally,” said the winner of the 2016 Raki Jatim beauty pageant, Tita Oxa Anggrea. “There are plenty of ideas and concepts to promote local tourism that can be implemented via social media.”

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T. Tahmadi, a member of the ministry’s team tasked with speeding up the development of ten priority destinations, noted how the internet impacted the tourism industry. “Everything is becoming digital nowadays, from searching for information to booking hotels. One of the things Lombok did to win the 2016 World Halal Tourism Awards was to conduct promotions through social media; thus, I encourage everyone to post photos and videos of their tourist destinations on social media.”

Source – TheJakartaPost

#Macau promotes multi-destination trips to Indonesian travelers

Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) promoted multi-destination trips to Indonesian travelers through a media session and seminar on Monday.

Held in Jakarta, the event highlighted opportunities for travelers to visit several areas, including Macau, Hong Kong, Guangdong, Guangxi, Pingtan, Qingyuan, Shenzhen, Zhongshan, Zhuhai and Nansha.

The multi-destination trips are designed to attract travelers who want to visit several places in a single trip.

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Hong Kong Tourism Board senior manager trade development for Southeast Asia, Raymond Chan, said that there were many Indonesian travelers visiting Macau and Hong Kong in one journey and sometimes to Shenzhen and China as well, which is one of the reasons why they created the event.

Meanwhile, Betty Fok, MGTO head of destination marketing, said in a press release, “[The event aims] to highlight Macau as the easy connection to Hong Kong and neighboring provinces, such as Guangdong, Guangxi and Fujian.”

In regard to visas, Fok explained that Indonesian travelers could enjoy a free visa while traveling to Macau and Hong Kong. As for those wanting to visit Guangdong from Hong Kong, they can use the 144-hour visa facility. However, they will still need to apply for a visa to explore other parts of China, such as Fujian and Guangxi.

#Indonesia – Ministry wants travel agencies to create ‘New Bali’ package tours

The Ministry of Tourism wants travel agents to come up with 10 new package tours that they will call the “New Balis” in order to entice international tourists to visit not only the Island of the Gods but also other places of Indonesia.

As the ministry enters the second year of its three-year business plan for the promotion of tourism outside Bali, the focus has shifted from branding, which was executed last year, to advertising. In 2018, the government aims to reach the selling stage.

“If branding is catching people’s attention, advertising aims to persuade people to come to Indonesia, while selling includes giving discounts and price cuts,’ said Tourism Minister Arief Yahya.

“Both airlines and travel agents need to be creative. Perhaps they can do joint promotions or hard-selling promotions to attract tourists to come to Indonesia,” he added.

The ministry is also hoping that the promotion of less popular destinations will distribute air traffic more evenly, alleviating congestion at the airports serving Bali and Jakarta. “The air connectivity problem is an urgent matter for us, since most tourists come to Indonesia by airplane,” said Hiramsyah Sambudy Thaib, who heads a team at the Tourism Ministry tasked with accelerating the development of new tourism hot spots.

The ten promoted destinations include Solo, Medan and Lombok, all of which have their own airport operating 24 hours a day. Airports that are currently being upgraded to accommodate large planes are Silangit Airport in North Sumatra and Leo Wattimena Airport in North Maluku.

“This is a huge opportunity for both airlines and travel agents. They can reverse the tour offerings from two days in Bali and one day in Lombok, for example, to one day in Bali and two days in Lombok, so that it won’t all be concentrated in Bali,” he added.

Construction work to extend the runway of Silangit Airport is slated to conclude by September. Meanwhile, Leo Wattimena Airport currently can only accommodate ATR 72 planes. An upgrade will enable the airport to accommodate Boeing 737s to attract tourists to Morotai. The runway extension is targeted for completion by June next year.

To support continued growth in air traffic, the government is in a process of deregulation to make it easier for airlines to add more flights to Indonesia.

Source – TheJakartaPost

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#Indonesia – Borobudur Temple among top cultural destinations in 2017#

If you’ve been itching to travel somewhere new this spring, one of the world’s best cultural landmarks might just be in your backyard.

Booking.com found that out of 34,000 international respondents, 66 percent were on the lookout for new travel experiences. To help with your future travels, they compiled their user recommendation data to create a ranking of lesser-known travel destinations.

Specifically aimed at those who are looking to whet their adventurous appetites, Indonesia’s own Borobudur Temple comes in halfway through the list at fifth place. A Buddhist temple located in Central Java, Borobudur has recently been considered an alternative to Bali, especially for those interested in history and culture, while not wanting to battle the crowds.

(Read also: Borobudur temple hosts new monthly dance performance)

Joining Borobudur Temple on the list are destinations such as the Indian city of Jaisalmer, in second place, a city known for its architecture that is located near the Indian-Pakistani border, and the only other Asian destination on the list. A slightly more well-known locale, Australia’s iconic red rock, Uluru, also makes it onto the list, in sixth place.

Source – TheJakartaPost

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Booking.com’s top cultural destinations for travelers:

1. Recanati, Italy

2. Jaisalmer, India

3. Viljandi, Estonia

4. Borobudur, Indonesia

5. Uluru, Australia

6. Barichara, Colombia

7. Vezelay, France

8. Flores, Guatemala

Suu Kyi denies ethnic cleansing of #Myanmar minority

Aung San Suu Kyi has denied the ethnic cleansing of Myanmar’s Muslim minority, speaking to the BBC after the UN rights council agreed to investigate allegations against the army.

“I don’t think there is ethnic cleansing going on. I think ethnic cleansing is too strong an expression to use for what is happening,” Suu Kyi said in the interview televised on Wednesday.

Her one-year-old government has faced international condemnation for the treatment of the country’s Rohingya Muslims, who are regarded as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, prompting the UN rights council to agree last month to launch an investigation into violations against the minority.

The Geneva-based body’s fact-finding mission will examine allegations of torture, murder and rape allegedly committed by troops.

Suu Kyi told the BBC there was “a lot of hostility” in the western state of Rakhine, where more than one million Rohingya live.

“It is Muslims killing Muslims, as well, if they think they are collaborating with authorities.

“It is not just a matter of ethnic cleansing. It is a matter of people on different sides of a divide, and this divide we are trying to close up. As best as possible and not to widen it further,” she said.

Myanmar has launched its own domestic probe into possible crimes in Rahkine and appointed former UN chief Kofi Annan to head a commission tasked with healing long-simmering divisions between Buddhists and Muslims.

Suu Kyi said the army was “not free to rape, pillage and torture”.

“They are free to go in and fight. And of course, that is in the constitution… Military matters are to be left to the army,” she said, adding that she aimed to amend the constitution.

Almost 75,000 people from the persecuted minority have escaped to Bangladesh after the military launched operations in the north of Rakhine state to find Rohingya militants who raided police border posts in October.

Rohingya who have fled have told the UN rights office that soldiers executed babies in front of their mothers, as part of campaign to terrorise the Muslim minority.

“If they come back they will be safe,” said Suu Kyi, adding that those who fled were welcome to return.

Her National League for Democracy (NLD) faced the ballot box on Saturday in by-elections across the country, winning a string of seats but losing out in ethnic minority areas including Rakhine.

The NLD came to power in a historic 2015 election which ended half a century of brutal military rule, but there has been disillusionment with the administration as it struggles to push through reforms and ease unrest.

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Bangkok International Motor Show kicks off today

Automakers hopeful of boost as motor show kicks off today

THE 38TH RUNNING of the annual Bangkok International Motor Show (BIMS) kicks off today at Impact Muang Thong Thani with automakers crossing their fingers for the market to continue growing after finishing last year with a slight shrinkage.

Altogether 768,788 vehicles were sold in the domestic market last year for a drop of 3.9 per cent, but auto companies are optimistic that the market has bottomed out and sales would reach 800,000-810,000 units this year.

The BIMS is considered a sales extravaganza, with companies launching fleets of new and improved models while dangling irresistible promotions.

More than 30 auto and 12 motorcycle brands are showcasing their products at the event, which goes to April 9.

“The BIMS is an auto exhibition event that brings together the highest level of automotive technology and one that helps drive the economy,” said Prachin Eamlumnow, chairman of the organizing committee. 

“Throughout the event, starting from construction to the last day, no less than Bt40 billion is expected to be spent.”

The show serves as a platform for displaying the latest automotive trends. It also helps stimulate the car market, allowing consumers to compare makes and models by visiting just a single venue.

Several companies are also showing off futuristic concept vehicles.

Toyota is displaying its FCV Plus, while Mitsubishi is putting the spotlight on the MiEV Evolution III. Nissan is unveiling its SOFC (solid oxide fuel cell) vehicle, featuring the world’s first bio-ethanol electric power system.

Prachin expects increased competition in the passenger-car market this year.

“Since the start of the year, there has been a good number of new passenger car launches for small and medium-sized models, which were postponed from last year because of the passing away of King Bhumibhol. The premium market is also seeing a lot of action due to the increasing number of players,” he said.

The premium segment is welcoming a new player, as Meister Technik Co has been appointed as the new official Audi importer and is offering a large combination of models to compete against leaders Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

Many consumers are ready to replace vehicles purchased through the last elected government’s first-car-buyer scheme, with the five-year ownership requirement ending last October for the first batch of buyers.

“We believe that this group of buyers will start looking for a new vehicle, but we can’t pinpoint what type of vehicle they will be interested in. They could upgrade to a larger model or still go for a small car,” Prachin said. 

Eased financing measures during the past two years have helped more people purchase vehicles, he added.

 Source – TheNation

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Indonesia – Transjakarta increases 2017 target to 185 million passengers

Public transportation provider PT Transportasi Jakarta (Transjakarta) hopes to attract some 185 million passengers this year, or 62 million more than last year’s target, an executive has said.

The company is optimistic that the new target can be reached because in February alone, the number of passengers had increased by 34.4 percent compared to the same month last year, said Transjakarta president director Budi Kaliwono.

“As of February this year, we have served 22.4 million passengers compared to 16.7 million in February 2016,” Budi said as quoted by tempo.co during the celebration of PT Transjakarta’s third anniversary at the Harmoni bus stop in Central Jakarta on Monday.

Budi also promised to keep improving Transjakarta’s services. Passengers can report inconveniences they experience while taking the bus.

“For example, if the air conditioning is not cool enough, passengers only have to report it to get the bus upgraded,” he said.

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Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni calls for vote free from threats, intimidation

A leaked statement from King Norodom Sihamoni circulated on social media since Sunday, nearly a month after he signed it, calls on citizens to vote for their preferred party in the upcoming elections without “worry of suppression, threats or intimidation”.

The statement, signed by the King on February 20, asks Cambodians to vote and exercise their right to a secret ballot, with CNRP official and royal family member Prince Sisowath Thomico calling it a regular pre-election appeal, similar to ones issued during the reign of King Father Norodom Sihanouk.

“But, I am very surprised the King signed it on February 20 and it was only just released,” he said.

The King is currently in China for routine medical checkups, though another decree he signed while overseas – this one bestowing honorifics on late deputy prime minister Sok An – was distributed the same day as its signing.

The King did not, however, sign recent amendments to the Law on Political Parties, also passed while he was abroad, leading some to suggest he objected to the controversial legislation.

The election remarks had circulated on social media for two days before being posted to the National Election Committee’s Facebook page yesterday. Royal family spokesmen could not be reached yesterday for information on the apparent lag between signing and dissemination.

While ruling party spokesman Sok Eysan said the King was only reminding people to feel secure in casting their ballot, CNRP Vice President Mu Sochua said the timing of the message, amid heated political tensions, would resonate with voters.

Source – PhnomPenhPost

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Cambodia – Microlender in monster deal

Hong Kong financial giant The Bank of East Asia and Sri Lanka’s LOLC announced on Friday that they have jointly acquired a majority stake in Prasac Microfinance, Cambodia’s largest microfinance institution (MFI) by assets, in what could be the largest acquisition of a Cambodian lender to date.

According to a joint company release, The Bank of East Asia (BEA) and LOLC acquired a controlling share of Prasac by purchasing minority stakes held by Dragon Capital Group Ltd, Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries SA (BIO) and the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO).

The acquisition raises LOLC’s existing holding from 22 percent to 70 percent, with BEA holding 21 percent. Prasac retains the remaining 9 percent stake.

The deal was valued at $186 million by Sri Lankan media. Prasac and its shareholders could not be reached yesterday for confirmation, nor was the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) available to confirm whether it had approved the acquisition.

Prasac is Cambodia’s largest deposit-taking MFI with an asset portfolio of $1.3 billion and over $660 million in deposits, according to the joint statement, which added that the deal would help pave the MFI’s path toward becoming a licensed commercial bank.

Sim Senacheert, CEO of Prasac, was quoted in the release as saying that BEA was a strategic investor that would “further contribute to sustainable economic development and financial inclusion in Cambodia”.

David Li, chairman and chief executive of BEA, said the deal marked the financial group’s first foothold in Cambodia and would help it expand its reach to the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

“Through Prasac, our bank will further strengthen its presence in Southeast Asia. This strategic investment will enable us to better capitalise on the opportunities arising from China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiatives’,” he was quoted as saying.

This is not the first time Prasac has worked toward securing a strategic investor, a move widely seen as the central bank’s requirements for commercial bank licence eligibility.

In August 2016, the NBC scuttled a deal between Prasac and South Korean financial giant Woori Bank for a 50 percent stake, claiming that the Korean lender was not one of the preferred bidder’s acknowledged by the independent regulatory body.

Cambodian MFIs have attracted the interest of international investors, with several large mergers and acquisitions announced in recent years. In January 2016, Thailand-based Bank of Ayudhya reached an agreement to acquire the local MFI Hattha Kaksekar – a deal that was valued at upwards of $140 million.

BEA’s stake in Prasac would mark the entry of Hong Kong’s third-largest bank into the Cambodian market. The financial group reported $98.7 billion in consolidated assets as of the end of last year.

Source – PhnomPenhPost

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