TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s tourism industry has been hit hard by trip cancellations due to fears of the Wuhan coronavirus, with the travel agency sector being among the most severely impacted by the epidemic.
Travel Quality Assurance Association (TQAA) secretary-general Wu Mei-hui (吳美惠) was cited by Chinese Television System (CTS) on Tuesday (March 3) as saying, “Many travel agencies are scaling down their operations, and I think many of them are in a situation where they have to think about whether to suspend their operations altogether.”
She estimated that if trends continue, it is feared over 500 agencies may have to shut down and more than 1,500 of them will be forced to place their employees on furlough before the end of June, per CTS.
The coronavirus epidemic has thrown the travel industry into confusion, with a great number of cancelled trips and many complaints arising from issues related to refunds. The TQAA said that their phones are ringing off the hook, with an average of 600 – 700 calls daily, the majority of which are in pursuit of airplane ticket refunds, according to the report.
The report cited Jiang Wen-xin (江文馨), a member of the TQAA board of directors, as saying, “When consumers ask for a refund, but airlines do not agree and cannot assist with flight changes, we (travel agencies) have to refund customers out of our own pockets.” Jiang added that most refund cases involve trips to Japan and Europe.