Christchurch travel bookings collapse
BANGKOK, 7 March 2011 – About 80% of all travel bookings to New Zealand’s southern island were cancelled according to reports by Thailand’s leading outbound travel companies specialising in the destination.
On 22 February a 6.3 magnitude earthquake devastated down town Christchurch causing NZ$15 billion damage and forcing authorities to order demolition of all damaged buildings at the core of this historic town.
Global Link International managing director, Rathanint Pharnintra, said immediate cancellations after the earthquake touched 80% and that included trips departing throughout March and April.
“The situation in Christchurch has dented our business seriously,” said Mr Rathanint. “Tourists panicked after the news and cancelled. There is a general lack of confidence in the destination,” he added.
Christchurch has been hit by three earthquakes recently with the last one causing the deaths exceeding 200 with a possible 100 persons still missing.
According to Mr Rathanint, the majority of cancellations came from group tour sales, leaving just a fewer incentive groups.
“The incentive groups were touring New Zealand and Christchurch Airport remains open for flights. Their travel plans covered other destinations in the South Island,” he added.
Big World Holiday managing director, Viboon Kamontho, revealed cancellations were as high as 90% during March and April.
“Of that, 50% came from collective sales and 40% came from incentive groups during March and April,” said Mr Viboon.
In terms of revenue, Global Link International claims to have lost Bt2 to Bt3 million in booking fees covering seven to eight tour groups a month for the school break peak of March and April.
Big World Holidays offered a more detailed insight into its losses.
“We had over 20 groups per month with 30 people in each group,” said Mr Viboon. “The cost of each package per person was around Bt80,000, which gave us a gross revenue loss of Bt40 to Bt50 million.”
When asked how he is responding, Mr Vibbon said his company would attend TRENZ 2011, the country’s main travel trade show in Queenstown, 22 to 25 May, to see what the national tourist office was planning.
“Also in June we plan to host a fam trip to Christchurch and will invite travel agents as well as selected media to help us rebuild confidence,” he added.
Global Link International said New Zealand’s NTO would face the difficult task of educating people, but at present it was probably not appropriate to visit Christchurch until life returns to normal for its residents and the city centre has been cleaned up.