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Coronavirus takes a toll on travel business

Coronavirus takes a toll on travel business

Meriam Jelliti
Doha
The coronavirus outbreak has taken a heavy toll on travel business, with the global fears over the deadly virus increasing day by day.
Doha-based travel agencies have confirmed that their businesses have taken a heavy beating due to the spread of the coronavirus. Though the travel cancellations have not reached a critical phase yet, they said, the odds of risk are very high.
Several countries have banned arrivals from China and many airlines including Qatar Airways have suspended flights to that country in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
“Travel booking cancellations are at their highest point in years,” a booking agent at Skyline Travel told Qatar Tribune.
He said the travel business is currently at risk because of the alarming situation.
“Travel agencies are related to both the global and local situations and currently whether it is from international travel companies or individuals themselves, the business is badly impacted. Some Chinese companies we work with have shut shop. The bookings are very low,” he said.
A supervisor of airlines bookings at another travel agency confirmed a huge drop in bookings. Though financial impact cannot be determined at present, he predicted heavy losses.
“The impact is heavy and it is not only related to Asian countries, but also Europe and Arab countries. We have had trips, bookings and meetings cancelled. The main reason is fear. People are afraid to travel and scared of airports. They avoid going to big city airports like Istanbul and London,” he explained.
Most of the current bookings are annual leaves only, he said, adding “People are going home; they are not on leisure or business tour.”
A supervisor from ‘United for Travelling’ agency said many Chinese companies are now shut down and trips to Asia are ‘nonexistent’.
“Besides trip cancellations and the enormous drop in bookings, we have had several excursions cancelled. The simple reason for this is fear of airports, most people prefer staying in Qatar because currently it is one of the safest countries as the virus has not been detected here,” she said.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Saturday affirmed that there are no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the country so far.