Kuoni to the rescue of Best Tours

THE KUONI Group has acquired Belgium tour operator, Best Tours, which is currently in liquidation, giving hotels in Thailand some hope of recovering unpaid bills.

Thailand is a key Asian destination of the specialised brand, which offers escorted cultural roundtrips, beach holidays and individual trips in the premium segment of the Belgium market and partly in the French market.

When it filed for liquidation – in the busy year-end period – it had some 5,600 travellers, the majority believed to be in Thailand.

The Belgian tour operator cited an accumulation of difficulties, including the ash cloud, the problems in Thailand and the swine flu, and that the market did not recover as quickly as hoped.

A statement from the Kuoni Group said it had taken over the activities of Best Tours and that it would retain the brand. Best Tours will join the Kuoni Benelux unit.

Kuoni-owned Asian Trails may benefit from the acquisition, with group CEO Luzi Matzig saying the account will “most likely” now go to Asian Trails.

In the past, Best Tours did all the contracting itself with hotels, did not have a handling agent but had a small representative office in Bangkok, according to sources.

Matzig said: “(The name) is well-known in Belgium. Best Tours sends at least 16,000 pax a year to Thailand alone, but they have been selling too cheap for too long.”

– Read the full report, TTG Asia, January 14 issue

By Sirima Eamtako

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