Travel Leaders Network surveyed its travel advisors in the U.S. and Canada to assess the impact of coronavirus on leisure travel bookings.
Results showed that bookings in China, and Asia as a whole, are taking a hit, but there were not very many cancellations to other destinations due to the coronavirus.
Approximately 30 percent of travel agencies reported a high to moderate number of cancellations for China and other parts of Asia. However, of the 400 travel advisors who completed the survey, few reported cancellations beyond Asia due to the outbreak.
The flu remains of greater concern to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. The organization estimates that this flu season, which started in late September, has seen at least 22 million cases of the flu in the U.S. with 210,000 hospitalizations.
“It is important to keep this in perspective,” said John Lovell, president, Leisure Travel, Supplier Relations & Networks, Travel Leaders Group. “While it’s true that there are roughly 45,000 cases in China; there are about 440 confirmed cases outside of China and 13 in the United States. Less than one percent of the cases are outside of China. Aside from a travel advisory to avoid travel to China, there are no travel warnings regarding any other destination.”
Travel Leaders’ survey found that 64 percent of advisors said they had zero cancellations of cruise bookings due to coronavirus worldwide.
Thirteen percent of advisors said they saw a high number of cruise booking cancellations with the primary impact on itineraries that included China and other parts of Asia, according to Lovell.
Cruise lines are reassuring passengers with greater health safety precautions. Cruise lines are taking extra precautionary measures such as enhanced screening and sanitizing protocols and denying boarding to passengers from China and Hong Kong.
However, for those feeling the heat from cancellations, the good news is that the majority of travelers plan to rebook.
“While we are getting inquiries, we are not seeing many cancellations outside of China and Asia,” said Lovell. “This is the peak winter break travel period for sun and fun destinations like Mexico and the Caribbean. We are not seeing those destinations impacted by this. Cruise bookings in the Caribbean, Europe and Alaska are solid. People are not going to give up their vacations or stop traveling.”
Travel Leaders is assisting travelers and advisors with a task force devoted to the outbreak.
“At times like these, the value of booking with a travel advisor becomes increasingly apparent. We are here to help our travelers in providing information, as well as rebooking. We don’t want travelers to give up their hard-earned vacations so if they are hesitant, we are suggesting alternatives in other parts of the world,” said Lovell.
The group is offering information on suppliers, airline changes, cruise itinerary changes, insurance policy updates, as well as resources from the state department and other government agencies are distributed several times a day.
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