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Coronavirus Disrupts Travel Plans Across Asia

Coronavirus Disrupts Travel Plans Across Asia

In the midst of spreading fear over the coronavirus outbreak, travelers to Asia, even to countries far from the epicenter of the virus in China, are beginning to reconsider their plans.

While hard data on cancellations is scarce, as airlines, hotels and travel boards say they do not yet have numbers or will not share them, some tour operators, travel insurance brokers and even airline employees say they are facing growing numbers of customers changing their plans.

Brian Fitzgerald, president of Overseas Adventure Travel, a company providing group tours to travelers mostly over 50, said that after its initial cancellations for trips to China through April in the wake of the outbreak’s announcement, this week tourists slated to go to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam were starting to reconsider as well.

“People are worried about traveling to Asia when they should be cognizant of traveling to China,” Mr. Fitzgerald said.

He said the company had received “almost no new bookings” to China for the first half of the year and canceled trips. It offered about 400 travelers a full refund, the option to go elsewhere or to take the trip at a later date.

The January data for APRIL Travel Protection, an insurance provider, which tracks residents in the United States traveling to every country in the world, shows that claims with an Asian country in the itinerary more than doubled compared to January of 2019. Additionally this January, 3 percent of all the company’s received claims were for cancellations related to the coronavirus.

Hopper,  a booking site that specializes in using data to suggest the best time to purchase travel, estimated that demand for international travel had declined by 3 percent since the first week in January, said Brianna Schneider, the company’s director of communications in an email.  She said 80 percent of the decline was directly driven by demand from the United States to China; the other 20 percent was “a peripheral impact on other international destinations.”



Coronavirus Disrupts Travel Plans Across Asia

In the midst of spreading fear over the coronavirus outbreak, travelers to Asia, even to countries far from the epicenter of the virus in China, are beginning to reconsider their plans.

While hard data on cancellations is scarce, as airlines, hotels and travel boards say they do not yet have numbers or will not share them, some tour operators, travel insurance brokers and even airline employees say they are facing growing numbers of customers changing their plans.

Brian Fitzgerald, president of Overseas Adventure Travel, a company providing group tours to travelers mostly over 50, said that after its initial cancellations for trips to China through April in the wake of the outbreak’s announcement, this week tourists slated to go to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam were starting to reconsider as well.

“People are worried about traveling to Asia when they should be cognizant of traveling to China,” Mr. Fitzgerald said.

He said the company had received “almost no new bookings” to China for the first half of the year and canceled trips. It offered about 400 travelers a full refund, the option to go elsewhere or to take the trip at a later date.

The January data for APRIL Travel Protection, an insurance provider, which tracks residents in the United States traveling to every country in the world, shows that claims with an Asian country in the itinerary more than doubled compared to January of 2019. Additionally this January, 3 percent of all the company’s received claims were for cancellations related to the coronavirus.

Hopper,  a booking site that specializes in using data to suggest the best time to purchase travel, estimated that demand for international travel had declined by 3 percent since the first week in January, said Brianna Schneider, the company’s director of communications in an email.  She said 80 percent of the decline was directly driven by demand from the United States to China; the other 20 percent was “a peripheral impact on other international destinations.”

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