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Travel industry remains resolute

Dealing with crises

Lift-off for ITS Thailand

PATA Strategic Intelligence Center World Watch

Travel industry remains resolute

Buyers, sellers and ASEAN tourism authorities are calm and confident in the face of yet another potential dampener for regional tourism - the avian flu. Several admitted cancellations and a slowdown in forward bookings. But overall, the mood was one of resignation that crises were part of the tourism business and that recently-suffered ones, such as SARS, had put ASEAN on a stronger footing to handle other potential killers.

Swiss operator TourAsia’s product manager, Marcel Boeni, visited Luang Prabang before arriving in Vientiane and regretted to note that hoteliers there had already informed him they were receiving some group cancellations. But he said, “We remain committed to Asia, and TourAsia will extend its brochure for the region, primarily ASEAN countries, to 30 pages.”

Canadian Royal Scenic’s tour manager, Rosie Yu, said bookings were still coming in for Vietnam and Cambodia. She noted that during the SARS crisis last year, Canadians were reluctant to cancel their plans to travel to Asia and waited for as long as they could before making a final decision. “The thing is, no matter what, people want to go to Asia.”

Swiss operator Jerrycan Voyages’ managing director, Raymond Imperiali said the region is popular was because ASEAN countries are diverse, hospitable and offer great value for money.

Kamala Bay Resort general manager, Jork Bosselar, added, “Our partners remain committed to Asia as long as the World Health Organization (WHO) does not start to issue advisories. While we have seen forward bookings start to slow down, we have not received actual cancellations yet.”

Antwerp Advanced Business Travel Services incentive development manager, Freddy De Wit, said his company catered for MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions), a sector which he said was more sensitive to such issues. He said WHO should play a preventive role by issuing statements that there was no reason not to visit the region, not issue travel advisories as it did during the SARS crisis.

Japan’s vice-minister for international affairs, Hayao Hora, said, “We don’t think the bird flu will have a great effect on outbound tourism to the region. Japanese tourists traveled domestically in 2003 due to SARS but this year we should see a recovery to 2002 levels.”

Malaysian Minister of Culture, Arts and Tourism, Datuk Paduka Abdul Kadir bin Haji Sheikh Fadzir, said, “I feel we are going to have these kinds of problems until doomsday. What’s more important is for the media to put things in context and that we have the mechanisms in place to prevent the spread of such crises.” (TTG Asia)

Dealing with crises

Stay in bed and refuse to get up?


PATA has added a special full-day session on tourism and crisis management to the Ninth Mekong Tourism Forum, in Chiang Mai on March 26-28 this year. Participants in the March 26 pre-forum seminar will have to cope with a simulated crisis, which will touch on issues now affecting tourism.

The program, titled “Catch Me If You Dare”, is a joint initiative between PATA, Bert van Walbeek of the Bangkok based The Winning Edge, and consultancy firm TIRIAN. Van Walbeek said, “This is an opportunity for travel industry leaders and communicators to test themselves and learn in a fast-paced hypothetical crisis.”

Tourism executives can join at a special PATA-sponsored fee of US$80 net per person, which includes lunch and coffee. The seminar runs from 10 a.m. till 5 p.m. on March 26 at the Sheraton Chiangmai Hotel (the Mekong Forum venue).

More information about the seminar is available at www.

The theme for the Ninth Mekong Tourism Forum is, “Protect, Position and Promote,” which reflects PATA’s commitment to managing the reputation of Asia Pacific travel and tourism. Issues on the table at the Mekong Forum include product development and private sector investment. Three breakout sessions will focus on the practicalities of the Forum’s theme.

For more information about the Mekong Forum, contact PATA Manager Support Services, Aaron Tan, telephone (66-2) 658-2000 ext. 125. Fax (66-2) 658-2010, email aaron or web site:

Lift-off for ITS Thailand

A new outbound travel event - International Travel Show (ITS) Thailand - similar to the fairs organized by the travel agents’ associations of Malaysia and Singapore will kick off in Bangkok between August 20 and 22. TTG Asia Media, the publisher of TTG Asia, is organizing ITS.

The event will be staged at Bangkok’s IMPACT Convention Center. TTG Asia Media’s managing director, Darren Ng said, “ITS Thailand, an investment which costs around US$400,000, has the full support of Thailand.”

The 10,000m2 event - able to house about 600 booths of nine m2 - is targeted at the Thai domestic travel and outbound markets. ITS Thailand will feature a center stage for performances and include a host of consumer activities.

The first day of ITS Thailand will be open to the trade and the weekend is expected to attract 100,000 consumers.

“For the first year, Thai suppliers will make up 60 percent of sellers and the rest will be from the region and elsewhere. In the second year, we will target suppliers from Europe and the US,” Mr. Ng added.

Mr. Ng said, “We are working with the airlines, hotels and other suppliers to come up with specially priced packages so consumers can shop and buy travel products at ITS Thailand. In our research, Thailand emerged as a growing economy with an outbound market with good potential. We saw the opportunity to fill a niche since Thailand does not have a major consumer outbound event. The potential exhibitors we have spoken to are also very supportive. For the inaugural event we are offering exhibitors a 30 percent discount and another 30 percent because of our 30th anniversary, making it really attractive.” (TTG Asia)

PATA Strategic Intelligence Center World Watch

The world’s largest carrier, American Airlines, is opening its first office in Vietnam and expanding code share flights to five US cities. The airlines’ move comes after the December signing of an aviation agreement allowing direct air services between the two countries.

Indonesian immigration officials began to charge visa-on-arrival fees from February 1, despite strong protests from the tourism industry. Tourists from 21 countries, who previously did not need visas, now need to pay US$25 for a 30-day visa or US$10 for a three-day visa.

Thai Airways International (THAI) joined five local investors and at least one international investor to launch the low-cost carrier SkyAsia. SkyAsia will run services between Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai and Udon Thani.