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p6 dec5 3/12/08 20:59 Page 6
news worldwide crises
Piracy causes
lines to rethink
THE INCREASED risk of pirate attacks off the
coast of Somalia has forced cruise lines to
consider changes to itineraries.
An attempted attack on Oceania Cruises’
Nautica last weekend has highlighted the
dangers of cruising through the Gulf of Aden.
Hebridean International Cruises is “seriously
considering” axing a sailing next April from
Oman to Egypt.
Managing director Mike Deegan said passen-
gers were being contacted this week about the
security situation, and a final decision would be
The government and airlines were criticised for the speed of their response to 5,000 British tourists being stranded in Thailand made before Christmas.
There are concerns that the piracy problems
Agent fury over Thailand
could lead to a revival of the situation in the
1970s, when the Suez Canal was closed and ships
were forced to sail around Cape Horn.
A decision on rerouteing a world cruise
Chris Gray and Rupert Murray.
Qantas, Emirates and Oman Air flights from the onboard P&O Cruises’ Arcadia, which departs
AGENTS have criticised the government and U-Tapao military airport near Bangkok. next month, will be made by Christmas.
airlines’ responses to the crisis in Thailand that Brian Wick, of Wickers Travel in Newquay, had Cunard, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Crystal
left 5,000 British tourists stranded this week. customers booked through Gold Medal due to fly and Silversea are monitoring the situation.
They claimed tourists were largely left to fend from Bangkok last Friday who eventually flew
for themselves, with those who had outbound from U-Tapao on Tuesday.
flights cancelled forced to pay for replacements He said: “The government or CAA should have
before getting refunds. done more. The situation was getting pretty
Cox & Kings lauded
However, Abta head of development Andy nasty, and if it had gone the wrong way, it would
Cooper said operators and cruise lines looked have been very difficult to get people out.” for Mumbai action
after their customers, and other tourists were Richard Bell, owner of Surrey agency Bagshot
paying the price of travelling independently and Travel, criticised airlines for insisting customers AN agent who had customers in Mumbai’s Taj
not paying the £1 consumer protection levy. who were unable to fly to Thailand apply for Mahal Hotel has praised operator Cox & Kings for
Foreign secretary David Miliband came under refunds – which could take six weeks – and its handling of the situation.
fire after the UK did not follow other govern- rebook on new flights. Simon Morgan, of Tailor Made Travel, said the
ments, such as Australia’s, in working with their operator made contact with the agency and
flag-carriers to organise rescue efforts. ■ TTG’s Paul Revel was stuck in Thailand during clients within minutes of the terrorist attack.
BA did not run a rescue flight for nine days. In the crisis. Read his blog about the problems “The clients were holed up in the hotel for 12
the meantime, UK customers had to try to get on tourists faced at hours, then escaped to the British consulate
and immediately were rebooked on to outward
Tourism chiefs to meet operators
repatriation flights,” he said.
“They had booked club class, but flew home
early in economy overnight. By the time our
THAILAND tourism chiefs have called an emer- that week with key operators to come up with drivers had collected them from Heathrow, Cox
gency meeting with key operators to plan how to a plan to push Thailand and ensure visitor & Kings had already refunded the fare difference
keep visitor numbers up after this week’s crisis. numbers don’t dwindle,” she said. and the cost of the unused hotel.”
The airports blockade occurred just weeks Kuoni sales director Manuel Mascarenhas said
after the country held its biggest-ever fam trip, the Thai market should withstand any damage
for 1,040 agents and journalists, ahead of its to the country’s image.
Amazing Thailand 2009 promotion. “It is a big market, so hopefully it will remain
Joanna Cooke, Tourism Authority of Thailand’s strong,” he said. “We have not had many cancel-
UK marketing executive, said flights were full lations, but the lates market has slowed down.”
for the rest of this month, but it was too early to Kuoni, which had nine agents on a fam trip in
assess the impact on bookings. Thailand, brought back all its 500 customers by
“The airport will be fully functional by Wednesday, and offered alternative trips to des- Getty
December 15 and we will be holding a meeting tinations such as Malaysia to other customers. Cox & Kings reacted within minutes of the Mumbai attacks
06 05.12.2008
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