Keep Thais afloat by getting facts right, says Heinecke

OVERSEAS tour operators can help keep Thais afloat by getting their facts right before cancelling, according to Bill Heinecke, head honcho of the Minor Group.

“Many are basing their decisions on the recommendations of their local Foreign Office and without properly investigating the situation, taking the dramatic images that have been aired on news channels around the world to mean that the whole of Bangkok is under water,” he lamented.

“However, in reality, for most of the tourist centre of Bangkok – the Grand Palace, the main shopping centres, other key tourist attractions, plus the majority of hotels, it is business as usual.

“Pictures went around the world of Bangkok’s second airport – Don Muang – under water. However, this is a domestic airport with a much lower volume of flights, and the main airport – Suvarnabhumi – is operating as usual,” Heinecke said.

“International flights are coming in and out as usual and passengers transiting through Suvarnabhumi to other destinations either in Thailand or elsewhere in Asia are still able to do so. The airport, plus the roads and trains between the city and the airport are all functioning normally.”

Even though Anantara Bangkok Riverside has seen a “significant” number of cancellations in recent weeks, the hotel continues to welcome guests for stays in the city. The brand has also put its belief in Thailand by launching on November 1 two new Anantara hotels during this challenging period – Anantara Bangkok Riverside on the Chao Phraya River and Anantara Rasananda Koh Phangan.

Heinecke said: “When tour operators cancel trips, this has a knock-on effect as the floods have already negatively impacted so many businesses and families, and so many people rely on tourism for their livelihoods.

“The key thing is they should do their research before acting too hastily, and not make decisions solely based on what they’ve seen on the news. The central plains and areas surrounding Bangkok are suffering from the floods. However, they are going to be suffering for some time to come with the volume of tourists that have now cancelled their trips, given how many people rely on tourism for their incomes.”

Last week, Asian Trail’s CEO Luzi Matzig also urged overseas tour operators to think twice and consult their handlers for an accurate picture on the ground before cancelling trips to Thailand (TTG Asia e-Daily, November 9), after a New York-based client axed two groups in a row without seeking its opinion.

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