The Pacific Asia Travel Association (Pata) has predicted a “swift return” to normal booking patterns in the coming months as it anticipates the coronavirus will be brought under control.

Pata UK & Ireland this week launched a page on its website with advice and updates for travel agents from its supplier, airline and tourist board members regarding the coronavirus and travel to the region.

Chairman Chris Crampton said tour operator members were reporting few cancellations, with most customers looking to delay travel, although new bookings were slower than expected for the peak sales period.

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He said: “Largely travellers are requesting to change their travel dates to later in the year. New bookings have been slower than expected during peaks, however, bookings are still coming through and largely for later in the year.

“Based on past experiences, such as Sars, the industry began to show signs of recovery very quickly and we are anticipating a swift return to normal booking patterns in the months ahead as the outbreak is brought fully under control and consumer confidence returns.”

Already members, particularly tourist boards, were reporting the situation to be “plateauing” with fewer cases being reported outside of China and Korea in the Asia Pacific region, he said.

“Preventative measures were put in place very quickly which has largely contained the situation within Asia and ongoing strict screening measures and travel restrictions are working well,” he added.

Feedback from agent members has also been positive, he said, with reports that customers are still interested in booking destinations including Bali, Thailand, the Philippines, New Zealand and Australia.

The association said it would carefully monitor the situation and provide updates, and was continuing with all its planned trade events.

Its first agent quiz night of 2020 is being held in Birmingham on March 24 and agents are invited to meet up with Pata suppliers, airlines and tourist boards to find out about the latest products and travel advice. The Pata Exchange will also be held on March 9, with more than 75 sellers of the Pacific Asia region.

Crampton said: “These are opportunities to work together as a team and support one another to minimise the effects on sales as little as possible.”

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