Speaking to Pata’s agent members this week, feedback has been positive; customers are still interested in booking New Zealand and Australia holidays, and there is still plenty of interest in Bali, Thailand and the Philippines.
Travellers to the Pacific Asia region are not encouraged or advised to cancel their travel plans, as the situation is largely under control with excellent screening and preventative measures in place.
The Foreign Office is currently advising against all travel to Hubei Province, and against all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China. It is also advising against all but essential travel to the cities of Daegu and Cheongdo in South Korea.
However, it is not advising against travel to any other countries or territories in the Pata (Pacific Asia Travel Association) region as a result of coronavirus risks at this time, but we recommend following the any FCO advice for the relevant country you’re selling closely.
We will continue to carefully monitor the situation and provide ongoing updates. We advise agents to take travel advice from factual, reliable and official sources such as Pata and our members.
More information can be found on our news pages to reassure customers and provide the latest inside information. Updates are also being shared through our social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter.
Our members, particularly tourism boards, report the situation is plateauing, with fewer new cases being reported outside of China and South Korea. Preventative measures were put in place very quickly, which has largely contained the situation within Asia, and ongoing strict screening measures and travel restrictions are working well.
Tour operator partners, meanwhile, are reporting few cancellations, with travellers largely requesting to postpone their travel dates to later in the year. And while new bookings have been slower than expected during peaks, bookings are still coming through – largely for later this year.
Based on past experiences, such as Sars, the industry began to show signs of recovery very quickly, and we are anticipating a swift return to normal booking patterns in the months ahead as the outbreak is brought fully under control and consumer confidence returns.
We would encourage the industry to attend our Pata events, which will go ahead as planned including Pata Exchange on 9 March attracting over 75 sellers in the Pacific Asia region.
We look forward to seeing agents at our first quiz night of 2020 in Birmingham on 24 March too, and we have further regional dates coming up. Agents and industry partners are, as usual, welcome to join us to keep up-to-date with the latest travel advice and maintain their knowledge of the region.
Enquiries will come back, and we want agents to be prepared and ready to sell. These are opportunities to work together as a team and support one another to minimise the effects on sales as little as possible.
Chris Crampton is chairman UK and Ireland of the Pacific Asia Travel Association.