Well, the image of "travelling in tour groups" has taken a severe battering of late.
First, there was the Hong Kong tour guide rant at a group of Chinese tourists for not shopping enough, which makes you wonder how long these zero-commission tours should be allowed to continue.
Then, we watched in horror as a bungled attempt to rescue a group of tourists from the Hong Thai bus in Manila unfolded before our very eyes this week.
The Philippine police has admitted that mistakes were made by a team that was inadequately trained, armed and led. "We saw some obvious shortcomings in terms of capability and tactics used, or the procedure employed, and we are now going to investigate this," said Manila's police commander Leocadio Santiago.
Too late for the eight Hong Kong people who lost their lives.
The image of the Hong Thai bus as it was surrounded, hammered, prodded and shot at by Manila police will last a long time in our mind's eye. Just as the airplanes flying into the Twin Towers on September 11 changed our image of leisure aircraft, so too will this change the image of a tour bus from pleasure-on-wheels to a sitting duck for mayhem.
You also have to wonder how much the highly public coverage of the hostage crisis as it unfolded had a part to play in the tragic outcome. This was reality TV at its worst.
I watched it for about 20 minutes but found myself unable to continue. It was too much for the imagination to bear - as you watched the police doing goodness knows what and wondered what was happening inside the bus.
It is often said there is safety in numbers but sometimes, travelling in groups can make you obvious targets - and when you are in the wrong place at the wrong time in the wrong country, well, then you're extremely unlucky indeed.
Never having been much of a group traveller, I raised the point about tours getting a bad name, citing the Hong Kong tour guide rant, with Nicholas Lim of Contiki Asia recently - this was before the hostage tragedy.
He was talking to me about how well his group tours were selling, particularly to places like Greece and Italy.
His answer is, there are group tours and then there are group tours. Buy the quality ones and you have a good experience. Buy the cheap ones where everything is subsidized and so someone has to make money somehow and the experience can be a shoddy one. Group tours are cheaper, more convenient and deemed safer for a particular segment of travellers.
Yet in today's world where everything is more or less accessible - to shop online, to search, to buy and then to move around on the ground - I believe more and more people will opt to travel independently.
It's in line with how technology is changing customer behaviour, making us more empowered, more independent, more expressive (at least in virtual terms) and now with location-based devices, well, making us more confident about not getting lost in foreign lands.
In the latest Visa-Pacific Asia Travel Association Travel Intentions Survey 2010 released today, it was found that almost half of all those surveyed (47 %) said they arranged their trips themselves by booking directly with hotels and airlines.
According to the survey, based on 6,714 respondents across Asia Pacific, self-organized travel was the top travel style for respondents from the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia. Flexible individual tours which allow travelers to choose their own activities were the next most preferred way to travel (22%). Packaged group tours were most likely to be booked by travelers from Mainland China (33%), Chinese Taipei (29%) and Thailand (28%).
As travel markets in Asia mature and a generational shift in travellers occurs, the trend towards independent travel will surely grow.
Meanwhile, as Hong Kong mourns its dead, the Philippines will have to deal with this latest blow to the country's image, not just as a destination but as a nation.