Travel agents suffer as online business thrives

Travel agents suffer as online business thrives

The Bali branch of the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agents (ASITA) has called on the government to take immediate measures to manage the growing use of online booking as it jeopardizes their trade.

Branch chairman Ketut Ardana said that tour and travel agents in the country were anxious about the phenomenon, as hotels and airline companies had begun to neglect their services and instead contacted customers directly via their online facilities.

They also complained about the appearance of online travel agents whose permits were questionable, he said.

"The matter of the booming online business was one of the main topics discussed in ASITA's national meeting in Medan recently. Members lamented their reduced share of the market," he said.

Ardana went on to say that some of the members relied on the ticketing business to survive. With airlines offering online reservations, he said that their income had dropped significantly, adding that state-owned airline company Garuda Indonesia was doing the same.

Therefore, Ardana said that his group would arrange a meeting with the State-Owned Enterprises Ministry and relevant officials to discuss the issue.

"We do not want to halt Garuda's or other airlines' online business, but we want to request a special quota, with a margin in price," he said, adding that tickets sold online were cheaper than those offered by them.

Ardana said that his team had done the same for hotels, by talking to the Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants Association (PHRI), calling on hotels to only cooperate with licensed travel agents and provide a standard room rate for offline as well as online agencies.

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