Thailand tourism back in business: Official

Thailand tourism back in business: Official

Singapore's travel industry was yesterday assured that Thailand is "getting back on track" after months of protest.

Minister and deputy chief of mission of the Royal Thai Embassy here Ekajit Kraivichien said that while martial law remains in place, it does not affect tourists or businesses there.

Measures have also been put in place to curb illegal activities, she added.

Ms Ekajit was speaking at the opening of a mega travel fair organised by the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (Natas).

The three-day Natas Holidays 2014 fair, themed "Leave The Everyday Behind", features 165 exhibitors including airlines, hotels, national tourism organisations and more than 50 travel agencies.

Ms Ekajit said Thailand is now "more stable and more committed than ever to promoting tourism and economic relations with friends around the world".

She noted that measures by Thailand's National Council for Peace and Order have included helping to shorten taxi queues at airports and stamping out unlawful extortion and overcharging of tourists.

To lure back Singaporeans, the Tourism Authority of Thailand has introduced more joint promotions with airlines to offer discounted flights to the country.

Travel agencies say demand for travel to Thailand is recovering after falling by as much as half following unrest that started in October last year.

Chan Brothers has seen a 40 per cent rise in bookings this month compared with February and March this year, when protests turned violent.

Dynasty Travel says bookings have recovered by almost 80 per cent of levels seen before the unrest.

Other than the usual sought-after, year-end destinations - such as Taiwan, Japan and South Korea - agencies expect self-drive tours, cruises and tours to exotic places to become more popular.

Enquiries about tour packages to Uzbekistan have doubled since a direct air link between its capital Tashkent and Singapore was launched in April by Uzbekistan Airways, said Dynasty Travel's director of marketing communications, Ms Alicia Seah.

Previously, it took up to a day to get there from Singapore, but with the new air link, travel time is cut down to about eight hours. The central Asian country is known for its scenery, old architectural monuments and bazaars.

Also growing in demand are tours that provide in-depth experiences, such as learning how to cook local food and practising taiji in China, said CTC Travel vice-president of marketing Sylvia Tan.

Among those who visited the fair yesterday was Mr Joseph Chua, 54, a manager in a logistics company who was looking to travel to Hokkaido, Japan, early next year. "The air fares are quite expensive but overall, the deals sound attractive," he said.

The fair is held at Expo halls 4, 5 and 6A from 10am to 9.30pm daily. Admission costs $4 per person and is free for children under 12. The fair ends tomorrow.

This article was first published on Aug 30, 2014.
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