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Travel’s dynamic changes – A personal perspective

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by Andrew J Wood – President SKÅL International Bangkok

With the dramatic announcement of the sale of retail travel giant Thomas Cook following the loss of £1.5 billion brings the blight of the travel agent community into the news once more. Last week Wall Street bank Citigroup advised investors to sell shares in the travel company.

Confidence that travel agents can survive in the age of DIY bookings online is paper thin.

The sheer convenience and ease of being able to book flights and holidays online, with loved ones participating in the process AND at a time and place convenient to yourself, is very attractive to most of us.

Gone are the days when you make a trip to the travel agent on the high street during office hours.

It was the only way to book a holiday in the bad old days. Booking travel online then was a complex, mystical and stressful experience with lots of jargon we didn’t understand. On top of that booking a flight was only possible on airline-backed computer systems using special codes and trained staff. Most of us didn’t know where to start.

Now it’s out with the laptop, sitting in bed in your pajamas at home, or on the settee with a cup of tea and it’s as easy as 1-2-3.

My family own a travel company. Business is nothing what it used to be. My friends work in DMCs – they certainly aren’t what they used to be.

Travel’s dynamic changes - A personal perspective | News by The Thaiger

A high-profile BBC journalist speaking at a travel industry event, recently warned the travel industry that large, well-established brands no longer have the trust they once enjoyed. That is certainly true.

“We are living through a crisis of trust,” the journalist warned.

Today instead of listening to ‘experts’ or ‘institutions’, we now now put more faith in the opinions of our colleagues, or friends on Facebook.

The BBC journalist also said, “We live in an age where feelings resonate more than facts. People now value empathy over expertise. We all need to work out what this means about how we should talk to customers.”

So it’s clear that selling travel has fundamentally changed, as was forecast more than 10 years ago. I fear during this time that this advice has largely been brushed under the carpet and as an industry, we have been largely unsuccessful in making these changes. The example of Thomas Cook demonstrates that even big travel hasn’t worked it out neither. We all need to talk to our customers in a way that appeals to them. There’s a danger for any industry that doesn’t adapt quickly enough to new audiences — remember Kodak?

Thomas Cook looks like the latest failure.

In the last 18 months there have been more retail failures than since the start of the century. Many brands have lost the art of communicating with the marketplace. They don’t know how to engage with customers.

My family are already talking about diversifying and moving into other areas of tourism and travel. I hope it’s not too late.

SOURCE: Travel Daily News – Asia Pacific

 

Andrew J Wood

English born Andrew J Wood, is a freelance travel writer and for most of his career a professional hotelier. Andrew has over 35 years of hospitality and travel experience. He is a Skal member and a hotel graduate of Napier University, Edinburgh. Andrew is also a former member of the Executive Committe of Skal International (SI), National President SI THAILAND, Club President of SI BANGKOK and is currently SI Asia Area a.VP Southeast Asia (SEA), and Director of Public Relations Skal International BANGKOK. He is a regular guest lecturer at various Universities in Thailand including Assumption University’s Hospitality School and the Japan Hotel School in Tokyo.

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Travelling in Thailand, Covid and Mor Chana | VIDEO

The Thaiger

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Travelling in Thailand, Covid and Mor Chana | VIDEO | The Thaiger

For people travelling around Thailand at the moment there is still quite a lot of confusion and misinformation about where you can travel to and additional restrictions on travel. We’ll continue to publish any updates to this information at thethaiger.com

For people travelling out of Red Zones… that includes Bangkok…. to other parts of the country that are lower-risk zones – organge, yellow and green – there are a number of precautions in place.

How these precautions are applied in practice is sometimes up to the local governors and officials and also sometime up to you with advisories about your behaviour when you arrive at your destinations

In Phuket, for example, if you want to travel from Bangkok to the island, officially there are restrictions on your travel, documented in a 3 page announcement last weekend. There was talk of a 14 day self quarantine being in place.

This week the Tourism Authority of Thailand has announced that travellers will not have to do a 14 day quarantine if they travel from Bangkok, except from four high risk areas in the capital

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Tourism

Thailand to introduce 300 baht “tourism fee” to insure foreign visitors, manage tourist destinations

Maya Taylor

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Thailand to introduce 300 baht “tourism fee” to insure foreign visitors, manage tourist destinations | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Sumit Chinchane on Unsplash

Thailand’s Tourism Minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, has confirmed a proposal to charge foreign tourists a fee of 300 baht per visit. The fee will be used to develop tourist destinations as well as providing visitors with insurance benefits while in the Kingdom. The proposal has been approved by the National Tourism Policy Committee and is set to be announced in the Royal Gazette once it goes into effect.

Phiphat, who’s expecting around 10 million people to visit Thailand this year, says the fee will ensure anyone who gets sick or is injured can receive medical treatment. According to a report in the Bangkok Post, 34 baht of the 300 baht fee will go towards insurance coverage. Chote Trachu from the Tourism Ministry says the fee was supposed to be implemented last year, but the Covid-19 pandemic meant it was postponed and will now begin this year.

Despite the introduction of the Special Tourist Visa, Thailand has struggled to regain much of its lost international tourism. The mandatory 14-day quarantine is thought to play a large part in people’s reluctance to visit, particularly if paired with quarantine or self-isolation restrictions in their home countries. In addition, a surging second or third wave in many places around the world has resulted in strict lockdowns, meaning it will be at least the second half of this year before international tourists start to arrive in any meaningful numbers.

Given the downturn, the TAT has until recently been pinning its hopes on the domestic market. However, the resurgence of Covid-19 within the Kingdom has had a significant impact on homegrown tourism. While the TAT previously predicted 100 million domestic trips last year, this forecast has been revised down to 95 million.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Thai travel agents call for vaccinated foreigners to be exempt from quarantine by third quarter of 2021

Maya Taylor

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Thai travel agents call for vaccinated foreigners to be exempt from quarantine by third quarter of 2021 | The Thaiger
PHOTO: MedPage Today

The Association of Thai Travel Agents is urging the government to do away with the mandatory 14 day quarantine for vaccinated foreign arrivals by the third quarter of the year. The president of the ATTA, Vichit Prakobgosol, says 30% of 10,000 inbound tourism firms have had to close for good due to the financial devastation caused by the pandemic.

He adds that a further 50% have closed temporarily since Thailand shut its borders, with only 20% of inbound tourism companies still operating. Those still in business have survived by shifting their focus to domestic tourists but are now suffering as a result of the resurgence of Covid-19. Vichit says that in order to help them survive, the government must focus on getting the second wave under control by next month and bring cases of local transmission down into double digits.

“If the number of infections has reduced from hundreds to tens, it should create trust and a better tourism atmosphere. It is believed that in the third quarter of 2021, there will be more foreign tourists visiting the country and the tourism sector will recover more than 80% in 2022. This will, without a doubt, gradually solve the country’s struggling economy.”

Vichit adds that with vaccination programmes already underway in many countries around the world, including Thailand’s tourist markets of China and Southeast Asia, tourists who can prove they’ve been vaccinated should be exempt from mandatory quarantine.

“Approximately, more than 1 billion people around the world will have completed 2 doses of Covid-19 vaccinations later this year and many will desperately want to travel abroad after over a year of being locked down at home. Therefore, we would like the government to put measures in to accommodate and attract this group of people to travel in Thailand without a 14-day quarantine.”

He adds that the rollout of the first Covid-19 vaccine to arrive in the Kingdom next month may go some way to reducing concerns among Thais.

“Moreover, the earlier announcement of the arrival of Covid-19 vaccination in Thailand by February might have caused less stress and concern among Thai people when welcoming foreign tourists. We predict the majority of vulnerable and at risk people will be vaccinated by the third quarter in Thailand based on the government’s current plan, which should allow vaccinated people to enter with no quarantine.”

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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