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June 9, 2014

Asia: Philippine MICE traffic to Thailand takes a beating

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PHILIPPINE MICE planners are reporting cancellations for Thailand in the wake of a coup d'état and imposition of martial law, though the lifting of curfews in 10 tourist destinations may help ease concerns. 
Maricel Delfin, sales representative for Bangkok-based tour operator Trikaya that deals with Philippine businesses, said: “When the coup took place, our clients disappeared.”
Delfin observed that martial law itself was not a main worry. “What clients are worried about is if the airport in Bangkok will close." 
Maria Michelle Victoria, president, Golden Eagle Travel & Tours, who flew to Phuket via Bangkok in May, said that the situation had since stabilised. "But of course for tourism, it doesn’t look as good, publicity-wise...(and) because the situation isn't so stable yet, it's hard to market Thailand.” 
However Bong Goyenechea, corporate sales officer at Ark Travel Express, said that even before news of the curfew being lifted had spread widely, he received a booking for 10 pax via KBS Travel last week. "People are still confident about doing business in Bangkok.” 
On the other hand, Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) is beefing up support for planners. Vichaya Soonthomsaratoon, director for meetings, incentives, and conventions department, said that the CVB prepares Letters of Assurance to explain the country’s political situation to planners’ prospective clients and coordinates with tourism and police authorities to assist affected groups. 
Vichaya remarked: "Normally we will urge the meeting planner to postpone – not to cancel – or to maybe to change (their activity to) another destination."
Meanwhile, MICE traffic continues in Thailand with a 6,200-delegate Infinitus China trip in May having pushed through, a 15,000-pax Unicity Global Convention in Bangkok scheduled for October, and an L G Hausys incentive to Phuket for 850 in December.

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