Taiwanese tourists sue travel agency after Sahara trip canceled due to snow

Court rules the travel agency should have informed them beforehand

Snow in the Sahara.

Snow in the Sahara. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - A Taiwanese couple is suing their travel agency after it canceled a trip into the Sahara desert because of snow, reports said Friday.

The three-member family of a Mrs. Wang (王) paid NT$78,900 (US$2,560) per person for an 11-day tour of Morocco in February last year, but a two-and-a-half day trip to the city of Ouarzazate and the nearby Sahara was suddenly canceled because it had snowed in one of the hottest places on earth, the Apple Daily reported Friday.

The Wang family was displeased that Artisan Tour (凱旋旅行社) had never told them the same situation had occurred with the previous tour group, and sued the company for compensation totaling NT$53,790 (US$1,745), the value of the two and a half days they missed.

Even though the Taipei District Court ruled that the weather formed an ‘Act of God,’ it still decided the change of program had affected the family’s mood and the quality of the trip. The judge therefore awarded the family a compensation of NT$21,518 (US$698) or 40 percent of the canceled excursion’s cost. Appeals were still possible against the verdict.

The travel agency argued that many roads had been closed off because of the snow, and that it had provided the group with alternative arrangements, including rides by Jeep and camel, and a visit to a movie center worth a total of NT$1,692 (US$55). However, the court said the company should have warned the travelers beforehand, since the group that had left for Morocco about a week earlier had also met similar circumstances.

Snow in the Sahara is extremely rare, but occurred in at least parts of Algeria and Morocco in 2016, 2017 and 2018, reports said.