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Travel plans sidetracked by Thai political unrest

2010-04-14 (GMT + 7)

Escalating political protests and economic issues in Thailand have forced Vietnamese travel firms to cancel many tours to the country and hindered travelers from pursuing their planned itineraries.

Thousands of travelers have had to cancel tours to Thailand due to the uncertainties in that country. Nguyen Cong Hoan, Deputy Director of Hanoi Redtour, reported that six groups of travelers (140 travelers) who booked tours earlier this must cancel their plans. The travel firm is not accepting bookings for tours to Thailand at the present time.
Vietnamtourism in Hanoi has also canceled tours with a total of 200 travelers.
“Vietravel has halted its tours to Thailand. At first, we intended to stop organizing tours to April 18. However, with the escalating riots, we must cancel tours through the May holiday,” revealed Nguyen Minh Man, a senior executive of Vietravel.
Vietravel declined to reveal the number of cancelled tours, but the number must be big. The firm had nearly one thousand clients by this time last year.
Clients of Fiditourist also cannot fly to Thailand. Under force majeure, clients can get back deposits or use their funds to travel in other countries.
According to Nguyen Cong Hoan, Hanoi Redtour  informed Vietnam Airlines and Air France of flight cancellations. To date, only Air France accepts the cancellations, while Vietnam Airlines has not responded.
Since Thailand tours have been cancelled, Vietnam travel firms are advising clients to choose Vietnam tours or to other countries. Some Vietnam travel firms that anticipated Thailand’s problems, booked large numbers of seats on flights to Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.
Vietnam Travel firms complain that it is very difficult to find available seats on flights to Myanmar, especially as the airfare is really attractive. There are only three flights per week to Myanmar, and passengers fly in Foker 70-seat aircrafts.
On April 12, Thailand’s Administration of Tourism sent a dispatch to Vietnamese travel firms, requesting information about the number of tourists booking tours to Thailand during the May holiday and advised tourists not to avoid areas of conflict.
Vietnam National Administration of Tourism(VNAT) on April 12 instructed provincial departments of culture, sports and tourism to request that travel firms halt travel to Bangkok and other dangerous areas in Thailand until the political ambiguity is resolved.
Following the news from thesaigontimes, inn 2009, more than 362,000 Vietnamese people book tours to Thailand, up 7.8% compared to 2008 and well higher than the TAT office’s 300,000 target. Generally, Thailand is one of destination which attracts lots of tourists but the number of tourists travel to Thailand have trend to decrease nearly days because of the political unrest.

(Source:Vietnam news)

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