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China’s coronavirus outbreak beginning to impact Indian travel firms

Forum Gandhi Mumbai | Updated on January 23, 2020 Published on January 23, 2020

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No noticeable cancellations yet, but bookings have come down, say players

 

Indian travel industry players have begun to feel the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in China.

Balu Ramachandran, Senior Vice-President, Cleartrip, said the company is seeing signs of passengers refraining from booking a trip to China. "Last week we registered a 31 per cent dip in bookings from the previous week. We are yet to observe any immediate traveller reactions in terms of bookings cancellations to that country."

On Wednesday, Chinese officials advised against travel to Wuhan after the outbreak of the contagious coronavirus.

Deadly infection

According to reports quoting International SOS, the virus has killed at least nine people and rendered more than 300 people sick in China. The WHO was slated to hold an emergency meeting in Geneva on Wednesday to decide whether or not to declare the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.

Low-cost carrier IndiGo operates 28 weekly flights to Guangzhou and Chengdu in China. “We will continue to monitor the situation. At present, our flights are operating as normal,” Indigo said.

Sabina Chopra, co-founder of Yatra.com, said: “We have seen a handful of cancellations of immediate departures in the past 24 hours. Since the Indian government hasn’t issued any travel advisory as of now, it’s too early to comment on it.”

However, she added, “There might be a few possibilities of trips being postponed. We are cautioning our customers in our capacity for the same.”

 

Wait-and-watch

Thomas Cook India said its customers were concerned about travelling to China. Rajeev Kale, President & Country Head – Holidays, MICE, Visa, Thomas Cook (India) Ltd, said: “Most of our customers are adopting a wait-and-watch approach to watch further developments.”

The travel company said it is providing alternative options to customers who wish to cancel their China trips.

Passenger screening

Meanwhile, the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare had directed airports to screen all passengers coming from China. “A total of 43 flights and 9,156 passengers have been screened for novel coronavirus illness,” it said in a statement. “Till now, no case has been detected through these screening efforts.” The ministry added that passengers travelling from China were being requested to report to the nearest public health facility in case they noticed any symptoms of the virus.

Speaking about inbound tourism, Rajesh Mudgill, Secretary, Indian Association of Tour Operators, said the association has not witnessed any decline, and no apprehension in this regard has been noticed by any tour operator.

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Published on January 23, 2020
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