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Travel Agents: An Endangered Species

Bali Association Travel Agent Association Calls for Government Regulation of Tourism Sales

(11/30/2013) The Bali chairman of the Association of Indonesia Tour and Travel Agent (ASITA), Ketut Ardana, is imploring the government to regulate online travel bookings that are  threatening the livelihoods of many Bali travel agencies.

Concerned at the rapid rate of disintermediation in the travel industry, Ardana says travel agent were anxious as airlines and hotels now deal directly with clients via Internet connections.

As reported by The Jakarta Post, Ardana also complained how many online travel agents are operating without proper permits and licensing.

“The matter of the booming online business was one of the main topics discussed in ASITA’s national meeting in Medan recently. Members lamented their reduced share of the market,” said Ardana.

Saying that many agencies were managing to stay in business only by selling airline tickets, but admitted that, too, was being increasingly threatened by the online presence of air carriers doing business directly with the public.

Ardana said ASITA plans to bring their concerns to the Minister for State-Owned Enterprises in an effort to halt the national air carrier Garuda Indonesia who, in keeping with the practice of the world airline industry, is moving to direct online bookings with their passengers.

Said Ardana: 

“We do not want to halt Garuda’s or other airlines’ online business, but we want to request a special quota, with a margin in price.”

Similar moves are contemplated for hotel bookings with ASITA talking to the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) seeking that they only deal with licensed agents and provide special price consideration.

Arguing for the superiority of business transacted with members of ASITA, Ardana argued: “We are actually more reliable as we do our business face-to-face with customers, while online agents only provide ticket sales and room reservations. The rest is left to the customers. They don’t check to see whether the rooms are as offered, nor do they guide visitors during their stay.”