Mixed business sentiments from SEA leisure agents following Brexit vote


INBOUND leisure travel from the UK into some South-east Asian destinations popular with the market has so far remained unaffected by today’s Brexit votes, as the majority of UK voters opted for the region to leave the European Union.

As the votes are being counted, with the latest results at press time showing 51.9 per cent in favour of the Leave campaign, world stocks have tumbled and the pound has plunged.

Malaysian inbound agents specialising in the UK market, told TTG Asia e-Daily that leisure bookings have not been affected in the lead up to the Brexit voting day, and not even as the results emerged this afternoon.

They also do not expect any negative impact on travel sentiments and forward leisure bookings as travellers have planned their holidays to Malaysia in advance.

Jaclyn Yeoh, managing director of Siam Express in Singapore, also reported “no immediate impact on the demand from inbound travellers” from the UK but she believes that tourism business will not escape unscathed for long.

“With the pound depreciating (in value), Singapore will become more expensive which may (cause UK clients to) change their travel patterns. This is a concern for us, and we will have to see how this will impact their demand for Singapore,” Yeoh said, adding that her team will be monitoring the situation closely.

Leisure travel specialists in Cambodia have also offered a cautious view.

Miles Gravett, country manager of Khiri Travel, who has not seen any changes in advanced bookings from the UK, commented: “It’s really unfortunate to have this kind of political and economic instability. For us, and I think for many other DMCs in the region, the UK has been the fastest growing and one of the strongest performing countries from the European market for the last few years.

“This is a massive shift in policy with so many uncertainties. Unfortunately, I expect British travellers are going to be hesitant in booking longhaul holidays in the short term, but we are still optimistic about the British market and will do our best to support anyway we can.”

Cambodia-based Discover the Mekong and Exo Travel Cambodia have reported weaker performance in the UK market this year, but their chiefs believe this was a result of various factors.

Kimhean Pich, CEO and founder of Discover the Mekong, blamed the “slow global economy, some small protests here, and the Brexit all combined”.

Pierre-Andre Romano, general manager of Exo Travel Cambodia, said: “We have seen the market slowing down during the last six months because the ambience is not so good for travel. There is the economic crisis and Brexit. I think a lot of people are waiting to see what happens.”

Additional reporting from Paige Lee Pei Qi and S Puvaneswary

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