Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 01/22/2014 21:15 | By Channel NewsAsia

Travel bookings to Bangkok fall more than half for Lunar New Year holiday period

Travel bookings to Bangkok fall more than half for Lunar New Year holiday period

Travel bookings to Bangkok fall more than half for Lunar New Year holiday period

SINGAPORE: Travel bookings to Bangkok for the first two months of 2014 have fallen by more than half, compared with the same period last year.

Travel agencies said the Thai capital is usually a popular destination during the Lunar New Year holiday period, but not this year due to political instability in the country.

There is no sign of panic cancelling at travel agencies even though the Thai government issued a 60-day state of emergency for Bangkok on Tuesday.

But operators said cancellations had started streaming from late last year, soon after protesters took to the streets.

Dynasty Travel said about 60 per cent of its customers have either cancelled or postponed their trips since early December.

And bookings have fallen by 70 to 80 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Alicia Seah, director of marketing communications at Dynasty Travel, said the agency used to get about 20 enquiries a week for travel groups for businesses and meetings to Bangkok, but has so far received none for the last three weeks.

She elaborated: "We will definitely see a sharp decline for leisure travellers as well as meeting and incentive travellers into Bangkok. But… we'll probably see a diversion into other cities such as Hong Kong, Bali or Vietnam. And those passengers that are still continuing to visit Bangkok will probably be visiting friends or relatives, but we will tell them… that they will have to register with MFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and try not to wear red or yellow.

ASA Holidays said it has not received any calls for cancellation since Tuesday's announcement, but the overall number of bookings for the Lunar New Year period has been hit.

The travel agency's assistant general manager Chung Tak Ing said: "It's about 40 to 50 per cent just Bangkok itself, but other parts of Thailand remain unchanged. For example, Chiangmai, (there are) no problems, and other provinces of Thailand."

Thailand's state of emergency extends till March, but travel agents are optimistic the situation may improve by next month, if an election is called.

But even so, at this point, they are not certain they would get more bookings for the March holidays as travellers to Bangkok tend not to book their holidays too far in advance. - CNA/gn

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