Tourists at Kuta Beach, Bali
A spate of terror incidents in Europe has struck fear into the hearts of Europeans, causing many to hold off travel plans and denting business for some European business events specialists attending IT&CM China.
Lidia Ivanova, manager of Mega Travel based in Bulgaria, told TTG Asia that her business had slipped by at least 60 per cent over the past few months.
She said: “The overall sentiment on travel is very negative. Many clients have decided to stop travelling altogether. There is a lot of fear with regards to taking flights now, made worse by the recent hijacking incident (on Egypt Air).”
Ivanova predicts business to fall farther, saying: “Instead of flying, more clients may start opting for road trips (to destinations) closer to home.”
Although Ivo Van De Velde, travel planner with Advivos Belgium, has not seen weaker demand for incentive travel after the Paris and Brussels attacks, he noted that interest in destinations perceived unsafe has fallen.
He elaborated: “People are not going to Turkey, Morocco and the Middle East as these are perceived to be unsafe at the moment. Meanwhile, demand for destinations perceived to be safe has increased. These are Spain, Portugal, Italy and the UK, as well as Asian destinations, specifically China and those in South-east Asia.”
However, even as these travellers have greater faith in destinations like Thailand, China, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan, Jean-Paul Bonomi, general manager of incentive agency Squirrelviaggi.net, said these places are “very expensive” and demand will not shift from Europe to Asia especially when corporate event budgets are smaller now because of the European financial crisis.
“The (high) cost of longhaul airfares (to Asia) negates the savings made on (cheaper) ground arrangements,” remarked Ivanova, who agrees that not all cautious European clients will be able to consider safer alternatives in this part of the world.
“That is why I am here (at IT&CM China) to explore new and cheap products in Asia to sell,” she added.
Additional reporting by Paige Lee Pei Qi and S Puvaneswary.