FITs drive European traffic into ASEAN

DESPITE the uncertain global economy, business from Europe into the region is still growing, buoyed by FITs and small groups.

Pham Ha, founder & CEO, Luxury Travel Vietnam, said: “Our UK market is doing well for the FIT, small group and special interest segments, posting a 30 per cent increase from 2011 to 2012.” He attributed this partly to the launch of Vietnam Airlines’ thrice-weekly flights to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City out of Gatwick in December 2011.

“At the same time, our German business rose 25 per cent, led by FITs, couples and multi-generational family segments.”

Carlo Fossati, MICE manager, Periplo Viaggi Italy, reported that business to the region was strong, especially for Vietnam and Myanmar, as Italians move away from hot spots Thailand and Bali.

He said: “Growth to Asia was stagnant in 2011, but picked up in 2012 with a 15 per cent rise. This year, I expect the trend to continue, probably about 10 per cent growth.”

Volume from non-traditional markets is also climbing. Kauno Piligrimas Lithuania director, Juozas Pekis, anticipates five to 10 per cent growth for 2013. “We still see growth to Thailand, and we plan to expand and combine it with Cambodia and Laos this year. Most of our market is FITs,” he said.

Heldur Allese, chairman, Fiesta Reisid Travel Agency Estonia, said there had been a 15 per cent jump in business between 2011 and 2012, though less was expected this year. “Thailand and Bali remain the top destinations for Estonians, who are generally fond of spa and wellness as well as golf tourism.”

However, Luxury Travel Vietnam’s Pham Ha has spotted some worrying signs. He observed that more European travellers booked with short lead times, from a year to six or three months ahead, with last-minute bookings occasionally. European FITs were also cutting back on their time in Vietnam from two weeks to 10 days, and now stayed in less expensive properties.

Read more in the ATF Daily

Additional reporting by Mimi Hudoyo

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