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Unfortunately for Thailand, many potential visitors have decided to look elsewhere for their next trip.
Tourism operators deny that local hoteliers are being forced by European travel agents to cut prices, as the ongoing demonstrations are limited to certain locations in Bangkok and are not affecting resort destinations.
“We were afraid that the market might expect Thai hoteliers to offer big discounts for room rates in the peak season, but apparently they understood the [political] situation,” said Supanit Vimooktanon, deputy marketing director of MBK Hotels & Tourism.
In spite of cutting prices, MBK can even increase its room rates by 7-10% for bookings at its two hotels — the Pathumwan Princess Hotel in Bangkok and Layana Resort & Spa on Koh Lanta Yai — in the peak season during, he said.
A total of 110 Thai tourism operators attending ITB Berlin 2014, one of the world’s biggest tourism fairs, from March 5-9 said European travel agents were still optimistic about Thai tourism.
They were interested in getting updated about the political problems here.
Mr Supanit said operators met a lot of customers at the fair and had a lot of questions about the situation in Thailand.
“They want to know when the political turmoil will end. They understand Bangkok was affected by the protests but that other destinations are away from the problems. So they did not demand that we lower prices,” he said.
Mr Supanit said that European tour agents are upbeat about Thai tourism and acknowledged that lowering prices would not benefit the industry. They prefer to see more interesting activities and new destinations.
“Everyone will be doomed in a price war, as their costs will rise. A price war will reduce margins of travel agents and will force them to sell packages for other destinations,” he said.
MBK introduced golf packages to capture potential markets at ITB Berlin. The packages received a response in Germany, Sweden and Britain.
After talking with tourism operators at ITB Berlin, the Tourism Authority of Thailand is teaming up with big European wholesalers to introduce hot-season packages from May-July.