Japanese cancel tours en masse

Japanese cancel tours en masse

A tourist poses with the pumpkin, one of the art pieces on Naoshima Island in Kagawa prefecture. Thais travelling to Japan dropped by 20% due to the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by Karnjana Karnjanatawe)
A tourist poses with the pumpkin, one of the art pieces on Naoshima Island in Kagawa prefecture. Thais travelling to Japan dropped by 20% due to the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo by Karnjana Karnjanatawe)

Thai tourism has been dealt another massive blow after 80% of Japanese tour groups cancelled packages to Thailand, prompting tour operators to urge airlines to reduce flight frequencies as Thais travelling to Japan also dropped by 20%.

Anake Srishevachart, president of the Thai-Japan Tourism Association, said 80% of Japanese groups already cancelled packages to Thailand as concerns about the pandemic in Japan spike.

The Japanese market ranked third for revenue contribution to Thai tourism last year with 89.8 billion baht from 1.8 million tourists, following China and Malaysia.

Tour operators catering to this market expect to see more cancellations over the next few months as Japanese tourists are highly sensitive to health issues.

Tour operators are already dealing with Thai tourists cancelling travel, worried about the announcement by the Public Health Ministry advising people to delay travel to Japan.

Mr Anake, also honorary adviser to the Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA), said outbound tours are urging airlines to reduce frequencies to Japan to be compatible with weaker demand.

This strategy will help stabilise the financial status of tour operators, airlines and customers who already booked packages but want a refund.

“Wholesalers carry the burden of air seats reserved in advance. If airlines reduce seat capacities to the same level as actual demand and refund the fees of dumped tickets back to tour operators, we can offset this impact by giving refunds to customers,” he said.

Thanapol Cheewarattanaporn, president of TTAA, said cancellations or delays of outbound trips according to travel advisory are not under the same condition as the Chinese government’s travel ban.

Tour operators cannot process refunds at the moment because airlines still operate as usual.

Tourism associations held a meeting with the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation yesterday about aid measures.

The proposal included a suspension on debt payment, a loan fee waiver as well as offering 1% interest rate for a loan of 2 million baht and below and 3% interest for loans of 10 million baht and below.

Jakapan Leeathiwat, chief executive of Tourkrub, said the cancellation of Japan tour packages reached 20% for those sold on his platform.

Overall bookings for all destinations also received 5-10% cancellation so far, especially the corporate segment which is likely to cancel all travel as it cannot risk employees being kept in quarantine for 14 days after coming back from trips.

Thai Lion Air (TLA) chief executive Aswin Yangkirativorn said the average load factor for this route in February is still 60-70%, while the Songkran festival has 50-60% advanced booking.

Yodchai Sudhidhanakul, chief executive of NokScoot, said load factor of Japan routes were unaffected by the pandemic and remains at 80%.



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