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Tourists shun South-East Asia as novel coronavirus spreads

International passengers arriving in Mumbai were seen wearing masks as a precautionary measure.

International passengers arriving in Mumbai were seen wearing masks as a precautionary measure.   | Photo Credit: Aadesh Choudhari

50% drop in demand from Indian travellers; Kerala faces spate of cancellations after infections

The novel coronavirus (nCoV) outbreak and its rapid spread to different countries has resulted in a close to 50% fall in travel demand to South-East Asia from India as well as in-bound visitors Kerala, according to travel aggregators and operators.

Countries like Japan, Malaysia and Singapore have recorded as much as 50% fall in demand from tourists in February this year as compared to the same period last year, according to travel portal ixigo.

“While Thailand and Vietnam bookings have not been impacted, our search queries reveal that travellers who have made advance flight bookings for travel to Thailand in the next two months are holding off on confirming their hotel bookings due to the virus scare,” said Aloke Bajpai, co-founder, ixigo

In-bound tourism has also taken a hit as India has cancelled visas of all Chinese nationals as well as other foreigners planning a trip from China. resulting in many cancellations. Kerala, which has seen three confirmed cases of nCoV infection, has borne the brunt.

In Chennai, Several planned trips to Mamallapuram by Chinese groups have now been cancelled, said Pawan Gupta, Managing Director, P K Holidays. The seaside heritage and resort destination had become a popular destination among Chinese nationals visiting India after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping held a summit there last year.

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There also seems to be a cascading effect on destinations in the Far East after Chinese carrier China Southern cancelled many flights.

“Passengers booked on China Southern, which offers cheaper fares for New Zealand, Australia, U.S., have also been affected due to the cancellation of flights. This has caused discomfort to travellers as they now have to rebook on a different flight at a much higher price point,” said Hari Ganapathy, co-founder of Chennai-based travel technology startup, Pickyourtrail.

Other say that passengers seem to be shifting to alternate international destinations.

“Travelers are prefering to visit Norway, Finland, Ireland, Netherlands, Brazil and Finland. Domestically, Shimla, Nainital, Guwahati, and Andaman are in demand,” says Sabina Chopra, co-founder and COO Corporate Travel and Head Industry Relations, Yatra.com

In Karnataka, the huge demand for travel to Cambodia and Vietnam has been been hit, according to Sanjar Imam, founder director, Panache World and president, Karnataka Tourism Forum.

(With inputs from Zubeda Hamid and Sangeetha Kandavel in Chennai, Deepika K.C. in Bengaluru and Jagriti Chandra in New Delhi)

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 2:02:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tourists-shun-south-east-asia-as-novel-coronavirus-spreads/article30765469.ece

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