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Vietnam travel firms prepare to resume tours to Thailand

2010-05-28 (GMT + 7)

Some Vietnam travel companies are launching programs to encourage Vietnamese tourists to purchase tours to Thailand, possibly from early next month as the country’s political situation is returning to normal after the end of the strikes in central Bangkok.

Lai Minh Duy, general director of TST Tourist, said that the company would open bookings on June 5 and would arrange tours to Thailand immediately afterward if safety and security were guaranteed.
“We are waiting for updates from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and will let our guests go if everything is fine,” Duy told the Daily on the phone on Tuesday.
Natural Tourist Joint Stock Co. and Fiditour will act similarly. Natural Tourist’s director Huynh My Yen said the company would organize tours to Thailand in June, the start of the high season for outbound tours.
Nguyen Thanh Hai, Fiditour’s outbound manager, said that the company would possibly restart tours to Thailand as early as June, and expected that business would thrive from the middle of next month if Thailand’s political situation stabilized.
Other major tour operators including Ben Thanh Tourist, Vietravel and Youth Tourist are waiting to see what happens. Ta Thi Cam Vinh, outbound manager of Ben Thanh Tourist, said, “We will wait for another two weeks until Thailand becomes a better destination for tourists.”
Representatives of Ben Thanh Tourist and Vietravel said that they needed more time to be fully informed before re-opening bookings for tours to Thailand to ensure their guests’ safety.
Pichai Raktasinha, director of the TAT office in Ho Chi Minh city (HCMC), said that the unrest in Bangkok had severely affected the country’s tourism and hotel industry. However, Vietnamese travel companies said the situation in Bangkok had not affected their revenue much as they had proper products to cater to the needs of local travelers.
Nguyen Minh Man, PR manager of Vietravel, said that the number of tourists traveling to Thailand through the company over the past few months had decreased by 50% compared to the same period last year.
Youth Tourist reported a reduction of nearly 400 guests bound for Thailand while Saigontourist handled 3,000 fewer guests to Thailand in the last three months than in the same period of last year.
Instead, the companies attracted more bookings for tours to Singapore, Malaysia, China, Korea, Cambodia and Laos while tours to Thailand were halted. Overall, their revenues still increased, despite the problems in Thailand.
Doan Thi Thanh Tra, marketing manager of the country’s leading tour operator Saigontourist, told the Daily, “Our revenue for the first five months of this year increased 20% year-on-year”.
Nguyen Ngoc Chau, outbound manager of Youth Tourist, said that more than 200 tourists purchased tours to Malaysia or Singapore every week in the past few months, compared to only 80 travelers in the previous month.
Most tour operators said they were optimistic about the recovery of tours to Thailand. “Thailand is a popular country for sightseeing, shopping and relaxation at suitable prices,” said Chau from Youth Tourist.
Hai of Fiditour said Thailand was near Vietnam and was linked by many direct flights operated by Thai Airways, Vietnam Airlines, and AirAsia among others. Hai noted Thailand would also offer promotion programs to attract visitors, and Fiditour would take advantage of this opportunity.
Pichai from TAT said more than 90% of activities had returned to normal and expected Thailand would be in a good position to welcome tourists next month. 
Vietnam Airlines announced on its website that it had re-opened its office in Bangkok after shutting down for days due to the blockade in central Bangkok.

VietNamNet/SGT

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