I have just returned from speaking at an international conference organized by the Singapore Tourism Board where tourism officials from 40 countries around the world were invited to come and learn about best tourism practices from some very learned academics and practitioners (present company excepted of course) which was a great learning experience for me, possibly more than for the delegates.

alistair speirs

I was speaking about best practices in Destination Marketing and Branding and used many countries as examples of the good, the bad and the ugly! The good, the very best acknowledged by travel trade professionals and ad agencies alike is “100 % Pure New Zealand” which not only portrays the destination beautifully, it does so truthfully, and at the same time dictates back to the destination just exactly what it should be. Marvelous.

The bad, sadly is Indonesia, whose campaign “Wonderful Indonesia” is a poor copy of “Amazing Thailand” and “Malaysia Truly Asia,” conveys no unique values to the consumer and doesn’t define the product in any way. This is poor in a world where expertise and experience in branding is readily available.

The “ugly,” is actually quite beautiful! This is the “Incredible India” campaign which is based on brilliant photography and filming, showing India at its photogenic best. The problem is that some, possibly all the images are fake or photo-shopped meaning that when the visitor arrives those camels he was expecting to see walking through a lake near the Taj Mahal, don’t actually exist!

But what about Bali? Many years ago, I helped to develop the “Bali is my Life” campaign which was based on the premise that Bali is, believe it or not, a place where real people, the Balinese, live and work. And it belongs to them 100%. Bali is supposed to be cultural, natural, artistic, agricultural, and beautiful. What the developers have given us is urban sprawl, shop houses, billboards, western style villas and three star hotels. Hard to base a unique brand on that.

In this issue we look for, and find the best things in Bali. Maybe that’s where we should be looking for the brand. But it all too often seems that we are the only ones who are interested. I hope you will join us.

Alistair G. Speirs, OBE

Alistair G. Speirs

Alistair G. Speirs

Alistair G Speirs, OBE, is the Publisher of NOW! Magazines. He has been in the publishing, advertising and PR business for the last 25 years. He started both NOW! Bali and NOW! Jakarta as each region's preferred community magazine.