Outbound travel agents in four emerging travel markets in South-east Asia – Indonesia, the Philippines, Cambodia and Vietnam – are reporting strong growth in bookings for Europe this year.
For Sok Sopheaktra, general manager of 2World Travel Cambodia, bookings to Europe soared from about 100 last year to more than 300 to date for 2017, as more Cambodians, already familiar with Asia, seek “change in destinations for their holidays”.
Notre Dame de Paris
Prum Veasna, owner of Golden Travel Cambodia, has also seen a rise in demand for Europe, with Italy, Switzerland, France and Germany being hot favourites. Prum opined that the country’s swelling middle-class and expendable income have led to more of the population being able to afford longhaul holidays.
“Increased access into Europe and more direct flights in the future are expected so (the region) has great (growth) potential,” he added.
Vietnam’s appetite for Europe is growing too. APT Travel Vietnam has seen a sharp hike in the number of Vietnamese opting for Europe over Asia in 2017.
While Binh Terl, APT Travel tour manager, did not specify numbers, she said the increase is “much bigger this year and we think it will get better”. She added that more clients are trading trips to Russia for Europe too.
BenThanh Tourist Vietnam manager Dung Hoang said France and Italy are popular with clients and predicts that Eastern European will pick up pace in the future. He credited competitive prices and a stronger desire for longhaul travel for the shift in demand.
For the Indonesian market, a growing national economy, stabilised domestic politics and favourable exchange rates have come together to boost demand for Europe.
Yongky Yanwintarko, managing director of Sun Tours and Travel Indonesia, said a healthy domestic environment has “boosted travellers’ confidence in travelling longhaul”. His company has seen a 50 per cent year-on-year growth between April and July this year, with England, Scotland and the Balkans drawing the most interest.
Destination Tour Indonesia has also witnessed a 20 to 30 per cent rise in bookings for Europe, with forward bookings made up to November. CEO Yento Chen revealed that Norway and Finland are new favourites this year, while North, Central and Eastern Europe hold evergreen appeal.
Explaining the stronger interest in Europe, Yento said: “The exchange rates between the rupiah and US dollar have stabilised while the euro and pound are trading better against the rupiah. Furthermore, many airlines are offering promotional rates which make Europe packages more attractive. In fact, some are more affordable than Japan.”
Over in the Philippines, travel agents have been so encouraged by the sales potential of Europe that some have formed a "collective” – a group selling tour packages to specific European destinations – and are attracting both FITs and GITs with tours that take advantage of airline and other promotions, according to Vilma De Claro Mendoza, president, Mart Evers Travel and Tours.