Travel agencies see cancellations in bookings to virus-hit South Korea
They are working out alternative arrangements with customers and sorting out deposits with hotels and airlines
Travel agencies are seeing tour cancellations to South Korea as the number of Covid-19 cases in the country continues to rise.
This is yet another blow to the industry as the number of bookings has been dwindling and business has not been brisk since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan last month.
March and April are popular periods for South Korea tourism as many Singaporeans flock to the country for the cherry blossom season.
Speaking to The New Paper, a spokesman for Nam Ho Travel said at least six departures to South Korea next month, mostly to Seoul and Jeju, have been affected as customers have asked to cancel their bookings.
She said the agency is trying to work out alternative arrangements with its customers and flight and hotel partners.
"We want to refund our customers, but we also have to work something out with the hotels and airlines because we have to account to them," she added.
A spokesman for Commonwealth Travel Service Corporation said about 20 trips to South Korea next month and April have been postponed until the second half of the year.
She added that this month is usually when travel agencies see a peak in the number of bookings due to the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore fair, but that has since been postponed until May.
Chan Brothers said it will be postponing all tours to South Korea with departures from now till March 31.
"We are currently contacting affected customers and working in consultation with them," said the Chan Brothers spokesman.
She added the agency has also seen a handful of cancellations, transfers and postponements for tours to Japan.
ASA Holidays said it has allowed for cancellations and postponement of trips up till next month, adding that it has seen more than nine cancellations to South Korea.
A spokesman for EU Asia Holidays said it received 40 to 50 calls from customers yesterday, with about 10 per cent of them requesting to cancel their tours to South Korea.
CALLS TO CANCEL
Ms Alicia Seah, the director of public relations and communications at Dynasty Travel, said there are about 120 trips to South Korea next month and April, and that the agency has also received calls from concerned customers asking to cancel their bookings.
"We've paid cash deposits upfront to the airlines and hotels, and now we are waiting for them to state their terms and conditions before we decide to proceed on anything," Ms Seah said.