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Strong economy fuels South American demand for Asia
Xinyi Liang-Pholsena, reporting from PATA Travel Mart 2013, Chengdu, September 16, 2013
 

DMCs specialising in South-east Asia are testifying to a surge in longhaul business from South America this year, driven in part by the latter's fast-developing economies and in part by growing connections to Asia via the Middle East.

 

“We have experienced average growth of 25-50 per cent in interest and actual business from South America over the last two years,” said Sabine Widmann, chief sales officer of ICS Travel Group, which has representatives in Mexico, Columbia, Brazil and Chile.

 

She attributed the significant spike to strong South American economies, which have spawned an increase in rich travellers seeking new destinations beyond the US and Caribbean.

 

Other Thailand-based DMCs are equally positive about the South American markets.

To tap this market, Exotissimo launched a sales office earlier this year in Rio de Janeiro to oversee Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Peru and Columbia.

 

Exotissimo COO, Hamish Keith, who expects growth from this region to reach 70-80 per cent this year, said: “South American travellers tend to be high-end travellers and will stay at top-end hotels. They fly into Thailand and typically do three destinations, sometimes even four or five.”

 

Despite being small in absolute numbers compared with traditional markets, Brazil is a steadily rising market for Khiri Travel Group, growing from one group in 2012 to five groups booked for next year, said general manager, Andre van der Marck.

 

He added: “They are (big) spenders...who will include all sightseeing and meals, engage Spanish-speaking tour leaders and go for special experiences such as photography. They are very much interested in culture, combining both Thailand with the Greater Mekong subregion countries.”

 

Claudio Kellenberger, deputy managing director of Asian Trails, said: “We don’t have any longhaul market with numbers lower than last year. South America is doing extremely well with 25 per cent higher (passenger volume).”

 

Furthermore, visitors from South America who swing into South-east Asia have a penchant for spending more and staying longer. To tap this market, Exotissimo launched a sales office earlier this year in Rio de Janeiro to oversee Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Peru and Columbia.

 

Exotissimo COO, Hamish Keith, who expects growth from this region to reach 70-80 per cent this year, also because of the small base, said: “South American travellers tend to be high-end travellers and will stay at top-end hotels. They fly into Thailand and typically do three destinations, sometimes even four or five.”

 

Van der Marck added: “They are (big) spenders...who will include all sightseeing and meals, engage Spanish-speaking tour leaders and go for special experiences such as photography. They are very much interested in culture, combining both Thailand with the Greater Mekong subregion countries.”

 

 
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