Taiwan travel agencies fear closure if coronavirus crisis persists

More than 90% of Taiwanese travel agencies could close if outbreak continues until end of year: TQAA

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Taiwan's travel agencies face possible closure due to coronavirus. 

Taiwan's travel agencies face possible closure due to coronavirus.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Taiwan Travel Quality Assurance Association (TQAA) said Monday (March 2) that more than 90 percent of Taiwanese travel agencies will be forced to close if the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) continues till the end of the year.

As the coronavirus continues to spread across the continents, travel agencies in Taiwan have received an overwhelming number of requests from customers wishing to cancel their trips. At a press conference on Monday, the TQAA pointed out that it received an average of 600-700 phone calls per day throughout the month of February and that 70 percent of complaints filed were about ticket refunds.

TQAA Secretary-General Wu Mei-hue (吳美惠) said the association received more than 2,000 customer complaints in February alone, more than what the association usually has to deal with in an entire year. Wu added that many customers have expressed dissatisfaction with the added maintenance fees issued by agencies when canceling their flights, reported New Talk.

Wu said that COVID-19 has greatly impacted Taiwan's tourism industry, especially during the usually busy Lunar New Year and 228 Peace Memorial holidays. She noted that more than 500 of the approximately 3,900 travel agencies in the country will face closure before June and that over 90 percent will have to shut down if the outbreak persists until the end of the year.

Regarding agencies estimated losses, Wu said that the tourism industry will have to absorb at least NT$10 billion (US$333 million) before June due to canceled trips. A large proportion of the trips being canceled had Japan as a destination, followed by Italy and other European countries, reported Liberty Times.