Leisure bookings to Bangkok weaken, some cancellations

MANY Asian travellers due to travel to Bangkok during this season have stuck to their plans despite the political unrest, but agencies are reporting a drop in forward bookings.

Singapore-based Chan Brothers Travel marketing and communications manager, Jane Chang, said: “Our Bangkok tours are still operating as scheduled and we do have customers slated to return over these few days; none of them are requesting to return to Singapore earlier.”

CTC Travel Singapore has not received any cancellations too, but it is advising Singaporeans travelling there to be updated on the local situation and be “mentally prepared” so they can avoid the areas of conflict, said Kelly Toh, marketing and PR manager.

Over in Malaysia, New Asia Holiday Tours & Travel general manager, Raaj Navaratnaa, said his company has also not received any cancellations for FIT and group departures to Bangkok. “We are still getting new bookings for January and Chinese New Year but they are a lot fewer than usual.”

However, Malaysia-based RA Jits Travel & Tours managing director, Harminderjit Singh, said: “We have not received any bookings for leisure travel to Bangkok for this month as travellers fear for their safety. Last month, we saw a 70 per cent year-on-year drop in demand for Bangkok.”

Indonesian operator WITA Tour director of sales and marketing, Rudiana, said: “Some clients have been thinking of switching destinations, others who have not booked their trips are taking a wait-and-see stand.”

He added it is normal for Indonesians to make last-minute decisions when travelling to neigbouring destinations where no visa is required.

Meanwhile, Thai inbound operators have seen some cancellations.

“We’ve only had a few cancellations, mainly FIT travellers; no groups so far,” said Willem Niemeijer, CEO of Khiri Group. Producing regular communications and situation reports on the protests is essential in keeping overseas partners up to date, he added.

Diethelm Travel Thailand, as of Tuesday, recorded six cancellations in the past one-and-a-half weeks. The situation could be much worse on the ground, said managing director Hans van den Born, adding that hotels in Bangkok were badly affected, especially those dealing with risk-averse Asian markets.

Protests have been called off for King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 86th birthday today, but many expect the rallies to start anew in the coming days, a move which would likely lead to higher levels of cancellations.

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