Thailand, slowdown, tourism, travel, trends, Europe, Asia, overtourism, crowds, marketing, DMC, tour operators, travel agencies, opinion

Thailand sees “slowdown” in Europe bookings

There appears to be fatigue in the European market for Thailand, while other destinations are benefiting.

Incoming travel companies are reporting an overall slowdown in the number of European travellers wanting to do long-haul trips to Asia.

The German-speaking markets of Germany, Austria and Switzerland are “solid” in general, but this is not translating into increased bookings to the Far East, with long-time favourite Thailand “behind”, TTG Asia writes.

“The market is solid overall, but the Far East is slightly down. The biggest decrease is Thailand,” says Thomas Stirnimann, chief executive of Hotelplan Group.

Tourasia, which bills itself as the biggest specialised tour operator in Switzerland for trips to Asia, is seeing overall bookings to Asia being 3% behind last year, with Thailand being the biggest decline of 7%.

Tourasia’s subsidiary in Germany, Tischler Reisen, is recording increased bookings for Asia – except for Thailand. Some Asian DMCs are feeling the effect too.

“There seems to be a continued slowdown in overall sales to Asia from the UK and, as I’m hearing from the market, overall in the long-haul marketplace,” says Tour East’s senior vice president for international sales and marketing, Chris Bailey.

Wake-up call
The trend could be a wake-up call for Thailand, TTG Asia suggests, as issues like value for money, political strife and environmental problems from overcrowding to volcanoes get in the way of business.

“The infrastructure for Vietnam and the Philippines improved and people are prepared to discover new destinations after having visited Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia,” says Stirnimann, who has cut charter commitments to Thailand.

Thailand has always prided itself on being good value, but “we get more and more comments that the price-to-value ratio of the main destinations such as Phuket and Samui is not a given anymore,” said Stephan Roemer, Tourasia’s managing director.

“Hotel costs – wine, dine, spa, etc. – are often much more expensive than in Europe. We come across such comments by clients more and more.”

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