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China bookings hit amidst Coronavirus outbreak

“We are getting cancellations from business travellers. This is not the season for leisure travel to China from India, but even leisure travellers are apprehensive about future bookings,” Bigbreaks.com managing director Kapil Goswamy said. “It is not a positive signal.”

Last Updated: Jan 23, 2020, 08.57 AM IST
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Travel ban imposed in China's Wuhan after coronavirus outbreak
Travel ban imposed in China's Wuhan after coronavirus outbreak
NEW DELHI: Travellers from India have begun cancelling bookings to China in light of the deadly coronavirus outbreak and search queries for cities like Beijing and Shanghai are declining, travel operators and online agents said.

“We are getting cancellations from business travellers. This is not the season for leisure travel to China from India, but even leisure travellers are apprehensive about future bookings,” Bigbreaks.com managing director Kapil Goswamy said. “It is not a positive signal.”

Balu Ramachandran, a senior vice president at Cleartrip, said the company is starting to see some signs of travellers refraining from booking to China in response to the news of the virus outbreak and the subsequent travel advisory issued by the health ministry. “In fact, last week registered a 31% dip in bookings from the week before that,” Ramachandran said.

On travel portal ixigo, search enquiries for travel to China have dropped 37%.

As per some media reports on Wednesday, nine people have died in China so far as a result of the coronavirus outbreak and the number of confirmed cases impacted by the virus has exceeded 400.

“Yes, we are receiving concerns from our customers with regards to travel to China. Most of our customers are adopting a wait and watch approach to see further developments. For customers who prefer to cancel, we will accordingly offer best options to either defer their travel, provide best alternate destinations basis availability, visas/documentation and pricing or a future travel voucher to enable them reschedule at a time convenient for them," said Rajeev Kale, president and country head – Holiday, MICE, visa at Thomas Cook (India).

Last week, the union health ministry issued an advisory for travel to China and advised Indian travellers to follow public health measures at all times and avoid close contact with people who are unwell or showing symptoms of illness, besides avoiding travel to farms, live animal markets or places where animals are slaughtered and to refrain from consuming raw or undercooked meat.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation on Tuesday added four more airports to the list where screening for the infection will be carried out for passengers coming from China and Hong Kong. Besides Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata where it had announced such screening earlier, it said it would be carried out in Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kochi as well.

“In light of the prevailing situation in China, we are in touch with all of our customers who are already at the destination, and advised them to refrain from <<traveling to-yes ??> Wuhan and take precautionary measures. The epidemic is also being reported in major cities of China such as Beijing and Shanghai, where most tourists go … Travelers are advised to take stock of the situation before making any travel plans to China,” said Sabina Chopra, cofounder and chief operating officer, corporate travel and head, industry relations at Yatra.com.

Subhash Goyal, a member of the national tourism advisory council, said January is the period of essentially business travel to China with travellers heading to the country in significant numbers for conferences and exhibitions. “Bookings will get hit for business travel,” he said.

May, June and July are the months for leisure bookings from India to China.

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