Gloomy picture for ASEAN travel agents

HANOI, 18 January 2021: An ASEAN tourism leader warned as many of 70% of Thailand’s travel agencies could close this year while Vietnam confirms that 388 outbound travel companies face “revocation” of their operating permits.

A total of 338 outbound travel companies in Vietnam were in the revocation of business licenses process in 2020, three times higher than 2019, due to the Covid-19 crisis.

First reported by the online VNExpress the data sourced from the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism showed that the number of “newly-established travel companies in 2020 decreased by more than 30% when compared with 2019.

 VNAT claims there are currently 3,339 travel firms operating in the country, including 2,519 outbound and 820 inbound agents.

In 2020, tourist arrivals fell to 3.83 million down 76% compared with 18 million in 2019.

In Thailand, ASEAN Tourism Association (ASEANTA) president, Mingkwan Metmowlee, who also runs her own travel firm in Bangkok, warned last week in a Facebook post that 70% of travel agents in Thailand would cease to operate this year if the Thai government did not step in with assistance.

“The second round of the Covid-19 epidemic has severely affected our faith in the future inbound tourism industry,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “It is whether we decide to suspend or close operations.. It is still the main debate in the business discussion.

“The Thai government has not offered the private sector any substantial assistance, short or long term… there is considerable confusion about whether to invest in keeping a business going or whether to close. The government must be clear in its policy to help or not help the travel industry.”