Southeast Asia and particularly Thailand’s specialist Luzi Matzig, Chairman of Asian Trails, remains optimistic about Thailand’s rapid bounce back following six months of turbulences. He tells why to Travel Daily News Asia.
TravelDailyNews: What are your expectations following Thailand’s recent political turmoil and the following military coup on the tourist season?
Luzi Matzig: This is still too early to tell what are the effects of the recent military coup. Thanks god, all the recent events surrounding the military coup –martial law, curfew, etc…- just happened during the low season for tourism. We experienced a decline of 22% in our activity in May. However, from January to May, we managed to maintain our activity with a drop of 11%. In the reality, the situation in Thailand is now under controlled and rather quiet and safe. But the problem is in the power of words. Say only “Martial Law” or “Curfew” and it evocates the darkest hours of the life of Europeans! For example, the term “Martial Law”, already drastic in English, turns dramatic in German: we use “Kriegsrecht” which literally means “War Juridiction”. The curfew of course was also bad advertising…
TDN: Do you think that Thailand will be able to bounce back rapidly?
L.M.: I am absolutely confident that Thailand will be back rapidly, probably more rapidly than anybody can predict… Why? Thailand’s products are first all good. Look at the seaside activities, culture, shopping, gastronomy, the hospitality industry, medical tourism; They are in Asia no better products for travellers than Thailand! And the sens of service remains one of the biggest assets of the Kingdom. So I have no doubt about Thailand’s quick recovery.
TDN: How about the Chinese market, Thailand’s number one source of inbound?
L.M.: The problems that China currently has with some of its neighbours –Philippines, Vietnam, someways Malaysia but also Japan- are in fact probably positive factors for Thailand’s tourism. Chinese will definitely come as other destinations might –I say MIGHT- look maybe more hostile to Mainland Chinese travellers. I expect that Chinese will soon be back in big waves. Especially for the MICE sector as Thailand remains a very attractive destination with Bangkok, Pattaya or Chiang Mai. At Asian Trails, we anticipated long time ago the growth in the Chinese market. We now have six Chinese employees, dealing particularly with Chinese travellers’ requests.
TDN: Do you think that Thailand’s turbulences “leaked” over other destinations in the region?
L.M.: Yes it definitely had some effect on other destination. There is a slight decline in Cambodia and Laos as many travellers fly via Thailand or generally link both destinations to a Thailand stay. For exemple, many travellers combine a Thai beach destination with Siem Reap in Cambodia or Luang Prabang in Laos. However best performing destinations are for us Vietnam and Indonesia. Indonesia is in fact rediscovered by a new generation of travellers with less holidays than previous generations which used to tour Indonesia from Sumatra to Bali via Java. Vietnam is increasingly seen as an alternative to Thailand. Many tourists combine in fact South Vietnam with Ho Chi Minh City to Cambodia.
TDN: What about Myanmar tourism evolution?
L.M.: Myanmar continues of course to be a top destination for Europeans as it remains a “new” country to discover after years of political isolation. However, Myanmar is also a victim of its own success as infrastructures and human resources have difficulties to cope with the increase in arrivals.