Society

Amid Ebola scare, travellers to S.A., Kenya undeterred

While there are some apprehensions, travel agents say tourists have not changed their plans to visit the African countries.

A few weeks from now, Amar Agarwal, chairman and managing director of Dr. Agarwal’s Group of Eye Hospitals, will go to Zambia, to inaugurate a new hospital.

The landlocked country is in southern Africa, far from where the deadly Ebola virus has struck, and so, Dr. Agarwal said, he has no problem travelling there — with necessary precautions.

While there are some apprehensions about travelling to the African continent following widespread reports of the virus, travel agents said this has not affected existing plans.

“It has not had an impact mainly because travellers go to South Africa (S.A.) and Kenya — and both these countries are unaffected,” said Priya Menon, owner, Aaditya Tours and Travels.

Shibani Phadkar, senior vice-president at Thomas Cook, said that while the firm has no tours to the affected areas, they are keeping track of latest developments.

“Our Africa-based tour partners are apprising us, and we are also tracking updates from the World Health Organisation to safeguard Indian travellers and incoming passengers,” she said.

Enquiries dip

However, the spread of the disease has had an impact on enquiries.

“We have had no cancellations, but over the past few days, enquiries of African destinations have slowed down. This is expected over the next few weeks too, but our tours to Cape Town, Sun City, Nairobi and other cities are still on,” said Sharat Dhall, president of Yatra.com.

At Akshaya Tours and Travels, some customers have phoned with concerns about travel to Africa, but after being reassured, have gone ahead with their plans, said Venkatraman Suresh, senior manager.

Niranjan Mantri, who has booked a trip to Kenya with the city-based firm, said he first checked where the virus had spread before making plans.

“I am a little concerned but since I am not going to the western region, it’s alright,” he said, adding he was looking forward to a wildlife safari.

South Africa, Kenya and even Tanzania have been popular destinations with Indian families and honeymooners, mainly for their adventure tours and outdoor attractions.

Ms. Phadkar said the sector had seen a 26 per cent growth, with their South Africa puja package receiving strong responses.

Yatra.com too has seen a 62 per cent increase in passenger traffic to the region, on a year-on-year basis, said Mr. Dhall.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 4:43:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/chen-society/amid-ebola-scare-travellers-to-sa-kenya-undeterred/article6314073.ece

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