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Bangkok protests keep travel trade worried

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“Shutdown” of Thai capital scheduled for next week

Tourism stakeholders in Thailand are increasingly concerned about the current political situation in Bangkok. Recent protests have already made a dent on inbound business, according to Bangkok-based DMCs.

Due to the unforeseeable situations and traffic disruption that could arise on January 16 – the proposed date for the “shutdown” of the Thai capital by anti-government protesters – Exotissimo Travel Thailand has cancelled all Bangkok tours on that day. It is transferring clients to other parts of Thailand or from city hotels to riverside hotels in Bangkok.

The company has received cancellations from groups who were due to arrive in December and February, with another 150-pax group looking at cancelling or postponing their trip in February.

“Several small incentive groups to Bangkok from China have postponed their trips from January to February, but they are still not decided on the exact date due to the current situation,” said Events Travel Asia’s managing director, Max Jantasuwan.

“We have received new inquiries for Bangkok and Phuket for June onwards, so it seems like the interest still there, but [clients] are looking at the third or fourth quarters of 2014.”

Despite the rocky start to 2014, trade players are confident that inbound business to Bangkok will pick up again once the political situation eases.

Hans van der Born, managing director in Thailand for Diethelm Travel: “It’s hard to predict the performance for 1Q2014, but my outlook is not negative at all. So far we have only seen a few cancellations. We’d advise our clients to skip Bangkok and head straight for other destinations like Phuket.”

Airlines are preparing for potential disruption. Cathay Pacific and Thai Airways are now waiving penalties for rebooking air tickets to Thailand during this period. Details are available on the airlines’ websites.

TTG Asia

[photo: Flickr (ilf_)]

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