Travel Agent NewsTravel agent and hotel association chiefs across Singapore, Indonesia, Phuket and the Philippines share their hopes in the new year.

Hops and hopes: Travel leaders' well wishes in the Year of the Rabbit

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From left (clockwise): ASTINDO's Pauline Suharno; NATAS' Steven Ler; Singapore Hotel Association's Margaret Heng; PTAA's Michelle Taylan
From left (clockwise): ASTINDO's Pauline Suharno; NATAS' Steven Ler; Singapore Hotel Association's Margaret Heng; PTAA's Michelle Taylan

In 2023, the Chinese are welcoming in the Year of the Rabbit, regarded to be a year of hope. For the travel industry across Asia, 2023 also represents a momentous year when travel will be picking up full speed with borders now fully open. With a fresh start and a clean slate ahead, Travel Weekly Asia speaks to four travel association heads on what their expectations and hopes are moving into the new year.

Steven Ler, president, National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (NATAS)

What your's biggest hope for the travel agent community in the Year of the Rabbit? The second half of 2022 gave travel agents a much needed insight into the sentiments of “revenge travellers”, which continues into 2023 and leads us up to a strong recovery for the start of 2023. I hope this strong momentum continues.

We have seen new travel trends emerging of travellers' desires and expectations for vacations. There's also an increasing number of customers looking for travel agencies to plan their holidays, as seen in NATAS fair, SQ TTF fair and agents own travel fairs.

Travellers are curious to experience new places and cultures, thus travel agents should explore creating itineraries with new destinations for 2023. NATAS has been working with several NTOs to provide new insights and support for our members to explore.

I hope our agents continue to engage and provide strong service to all customers. Customers value our service and knowledge to provide them with good travel experience.

New Year message to travel industry and partners I am cautiously optimistic for 2023, given the unknown recession and how it may play out. However, this may be overcome with China's opening and also a strong demand to travel given the last 2.5 years of restriction. Hence, it's my advice to all travel agents to get to know and take care of your customers to build loyalty.

Pauline Suharno, chair, ASTINDO

What your's biggest hope for the travel agent community in the Year of the Rabbit? Firstly, I hope the Year of the Rabbit will be a year full of peace and stability, free of threats to the travel industry. I hope for serenity and tranquility ahead of us, especially as Indonesia goes into a political year in 2023, and for there to be no more domestic and international disruptions.

Secondly, I hope that customers will understand the role of the Indonesian travel agents and more travellers will start using Indonesia travel agents' services to book their vacations.

New Year message to travel industry and partners To all travel sector players, here's wishing you health, peace, happiness, and prosperity!

Michelle Taylan, chair, Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) Travel Tour Expo

What your's biggest hope for the travel agent community in the Year of the Rabbit? As we enter 2023 and as the PTAA 30th Travel Tour Expo approaches, I wish to see continued success and rapid improvements in the Philippines' tourism industry.

I am optimistic that the travel industry will once again regain be in an enviable position as one of the main economic drivers of the Philippines; providing lots of business opportunities, generating employment, becoming a top foreign exchange earner and spurring infrastructure development.

Your New Year message to travel industry and partners Happy Chinese New Year to all travel agencies and partners! Let us never forget all what we have learnt and experienced throughout the years. Keep striving for improvement and betterment. May 2023 be filled with opportunities, fortunes, and great productivity.

Margaret Heng, executive director, Singapore Hotel Association

What your's biggest hope for the Singapore hotel industry in the Year of the Rabbit? I look forward to welcoming the Year of the Rabbit with hope for peace and prosperity. After that fateful Chinese New Year in 2020, I wish that we never have to experience a similar episode and tourism will flourish beyond 2019 levels soon. More urgently, I hope that the rabbit symbolises rapid growth for the hotel workforce so that we can recruit more talents rapidly to elevate guest experiences.

New Year message to travel industry and partners On behalf of the Singapore Hotel Association, I would like to extend our heartiest congratulations to all hoteliers and industry peers for emerging stronger together. May the joy of travel and spirit of adventure prevail in the Year of the Rabbit and bring more visitors to Singapore. Here’s wishing all readers of Travel Weekly Asia a very healthy, happy and peaceful Lunar New Year!

Bali Hotels Association's Fransiska Handoko and Phuket Hotels Association's Bjorn Courage.
Bali Hotels Association's Fransiska Handoko and Phuket Hotels Association's Bjorn Courage.

Bjorn Courage, president, Phuket Hotels Association

What's your biggest hope for the Phuket hotel industry in the Year of the Rabbit? Last year was all about recovery from Covid and the tourism industry was still undergoing many Covid measures. In 2023, we're now seeing a clear reopening of borders and travel is at full swing. Our peak season in Phuket has without a doubt passed many records, even from pre-Covid period. We can only hope that tourism continues to move onwards and upwards from here on!

New Year message to travel industry and partners The past is the past, here’s to strong 2023 trading!

Fransiska Handoko, chair, Bali Hotels Association

What's your biggest hope for the Bali hotel industry in the Year of the Rabbit? We look forward to the future with renewed optimism, as we continue to focus on sustainability in tourism and build a thriving industry together with our partners and stakeholders towards greater achievements.

New Year message to travel industry and partners May the year of Rabbit be a year of joy and prosperity in abundance to the travel & tourism industry!

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