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ATF2005 Day 4 Report
ASEAN growth tipped:
Five to 10 per cent growth; Asia faster than longhau
Wrisney Tan, Langkawi
 

Wrisney Tan, Langkawi  
(27th Jan 2005)


THE ever-resilient ASEAN region is going to be hot in the next winter season with most long-haul buyers expecting volume increases of at least five to 10 per cent and Asian buyers expecting increases of 10 to 20 per cent, barring any unforeseen circumstances. And Koh Samui is the new preferred destination.

A poll of the buyers at Travex indicated renewed optimism despite the tsunami. Osaka-based Nippon Travel Agency deputy general manager, Mr Teruaki Hamada, whose annual business to ASEAN averages 200,000 travellers, said he was expecting a 15 to 20 per cent increase in business now that the adverse impact caused by SARS and the Bali bombing has worn off.

“ASEAN continues to fascinate the Japanese market. They like Phuket and Bali. Kota Kinabalu has also become very popular since a direct flight was launched last year. Resorts here have excellent facilities and are great value for money for our travellers and they find the local people very warm,” he said.

Sweden's Choice Tours director, Mr Paul Selvaraj, said he was expecting a 10 per cent increase in volume to ASEAN. “It has become more affordable and new air routes have been introduced. Most of the tourists will go to Thailand as there is good air accessibility. On the other hand Garuda Indonesia has withdrawn its flights and Singapore is a business destination.

“On the whole, our travellers perceive the region as safe with the exception that if any travel advisory is issued, they will hesitate to travel.”

Austria-based Optimundus, product manager Asia, Ms Verena Horner, said a five per cent increase is a reasonable projection for her. “What was important in the aftermath of the tsunami was that our news stations carried many positive reports about the kindness shown by the locals and their helpfulness to Austrian survivors in Phuket.

“Those reports generated a lot of goodwill towards the region and I think people are keen to come and see how they can help.”

Germany-based Ikarus Tours director Asia, Ms Rita Stappert, said ASEAN was booming. She expects business to increase at least 10 per cent, to Indochina and Burma especially. “This is because they have cultural and exotic appeal, and important monuments such as Angkor Wat. When people think beach holidays, they still think ASEAN. They might avoid Phuket for a while, but Samui will become more popular.”

Jakarta-based Suman Tours chief operating officer, Mr Maurice Batheff, said his company organised regional tours for 40 special interest groups of 40 to 100 people last year and he expects a 20 per cent increase in business to the region because it is still more affordable against the rupiah.

But the region's resort destinations also face increasing competition from its counterparts in other parts of the world, which are stepping up efforts to attract sun lovers.

Mr Hamada said Hawaii, Guam, Saipan and Micronesia are gaining ground by offering attractive prices. Mr Selvaraj said the Caribbean and South America were up-and-coming for the Swedes.

 
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