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Business travel industry confident of market in face of war

In spite of the war in Iraq and economic uncertainties, the business travel industry which joined in the…

In spite of the war in Iraq and economic uncertainties, the business travel industry which joined in the Business Travel Expo Hong Kong 2003 showed confidence in the market in the long run.

James Barrington, Director Sales & Marketing of Cathay Pacific Airways, the largest airline in Hong Kong, noted that in the next two or three weeks, air-ticket bookings by business travelers are soft in the aftermath of the military actions against Iraq.

However, unlike other kinds of travelers, business travelers defer, instead of canceling their travel plans, which makes him confident of the long-term market.

In his opinion, the expo is a strong endorsement to the strength of Hong Kong as a business travel center around the region.

Justin Cheung, Regional Director of Sales & Marketing of Marco Polo Hotel Group echoed Barrington`s opinion. He noted that the downturn in the occupancy rate by business people is temporary, as the business travelers just rescheduled their timetable.

He pointed out that for guests with original arrivals at the end of March at the three hotels in the Marco Polo group, they usually delay their arrivals to the middle of April.

Even though business travelers occupy 30 percent of the market share of the 1,500 rooms at the three hotels, they hand in 50 percent of the revenue, Cheung pointed out.

Paul Robin, Group Event Director of the Business Travel Expo, the second of its kind in Hong Kong, agreed that in the short term, the war on Iraq would have negative effect on the business travel market in Hong Kong, but not in the long run.

He explained that businessmen need to travel, otherwise, they lose business to other people.

Robin stressed that the information and planning on business travel which the expo can offer is important for companies, especially in the difficult times, such as travel security.

A total of 75 airlines, hotels, travel technology providers and business travel management agencies joined the two-day expo at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, including American Express International, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse First Boston and American International Travel.

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