Guwahatians Cancel Travel Plans Amidst Coronavirus Scare, Refunds Still Uncertain
Owing to the Coronavirus scare, Guwahatians have become scared of traveling, of being confined into airplanes, trains and cruises. Hence, they are quashing their travel plans and this is coming down heavily on the travel industry.
For a couple who wished to celebrate their 25 year of togetherness in the middle of the sea, relaxing and reminiscing the years gone by, Covid-19 came as quiet a dismay.
When Manoj Jain purchased a week-long trip to Singapore along with cruise through a travel agent, global pandemic was the last thing on his mind.
He bought the tickets in January 2020. But, as the coronavirus spreads, he was one of thousands of travelers scrambling to change their plans.
Jain had planned to travel with his wife and two children, leaving for Singapore on March 7. As the virus made its way to Singapore, affecting over 80 citizens by February end, Jain decided to cancel his plans.
“Bookings can be made again but life is more important. So, I called my agent for assistance in canceling the plan. But when I asked him to cancel our vacation, we were informed that although the airline company was giving full refund, the cruise would only provide 30% amount as refund while there would be no refund for hotel and sight-seeing,” explained Jain.
He further added that although the trip got cancelled, he is yet to receive the refund amount from the agent who claims to have not received the same from the airline and cruise companies.
Such is the story of many Guwahatians who have had to cancel their travel plans owing to the coronavirus outbreak. While some were able to reschedule their plans or get refunds, others lost lakhs of rupees instead.
It is to be mentioned here that while international flights have been giving full refund to its customers, domestic flights have not changed their cancelation policies. Apart from Vistara, all domestic airlines are charging cancellation fees from the customers however they are being provided with the option to reschedule.
“Ever since the novel coronavirus started to spread, people have been avoiding travel. In my experience, only those who are away from home are traveling, just to reach back to their home city,” the owner of a leading travel agency in Guwahati informed G Plus.
People are rushing to repatriate their loved ones before coronavirus travel ban. As the pandemic spreads, parents of students studying in Italy and other foreign countries are panic-stricken and trying to get their children home as the situation worsens.
“I had travelled from Delhi to Guwahati on March 17 to spend some time with my maternal family but as PM Modi announced for a Janata Curfew to be held on March 22, I booked my return tickets for March 21 to get back to my husband and children before situation worsens,” said Sweta Harlalka, a resident of Faridabad in Haryana.
Another travel agent informed G Plus that there have been a lot of cancellations and rescheduling taking place amidst the coronavirus scare. The tourism industry has been facing a severe blow as all tourist spots also remain shut.
If reports are to be believed, coronavirus has affected the travel and tourism business entirely in a negative way. Globally, the travel industry has come into a deficit of over $80 billion. The Indian tourism industry has already suffered huge losses and is continuing to do so.
The government of India has taken severe measures to fight the disease such as cancelling all non-official visas till April 15 and invoking provisions of Section 2 of Epidemic Disease Act, 1897. Across the country, strict screening of passengers is being carried out at various airports and even at ports.
Indian Railways has suspended concessional booking of all tickets except patients, students and Divyangjan category till further advisory to contain the outbreak of the disease. It has also cancelled as many as 155 trains.
Additionally, a “novel coronavirus” landing page on the Ministry of Health’s website gives the numbers of phone helplines, detailed advice and guidelines. Testing centers are also being increased across the country.