Singapore Travel Agencies Suspend Trips To South Korea Following Escalation Of Covid-19 Situation
On 23 Feb, South Korea raised its Covid-19 alert to a level equivalent to Singapore’s DORSCON Red.
With a total of 833 cases as of 24 Feb, the country now records the highest number of cases out of China, overtaking Japan and Singapore.
As such, Singapore issued an advisory on 23 Feb, encouraging Singaporeans to postpone non-essential trips to hotspots like Daegu and Cheongdo.
In response, Singapore travel agencies and citizens are cancelling or postponing their Korea trips.
Travel agencies to make alternative arrangements for customers
In an interview with The Straits Times, travel agencies reveal that they are receiving 50 to 60 calls a day from customers seeking to cancel their South Korea trips.
The agencies are scurrying to coordinate the entire process, on top of their workload that piled up due to cancelled trips to Japan and China.
Image sourced via AFP
Despite the detrimental impact, agencies are taking the extra precaution in light of recent developments.
Agencies like EU Asia are postponing their tours to South Korea until 24 Mar to protect their staff and customers.
While deposits for flights and accommodation will be hard to recover, they are trying to minimise losses in other aspects.
Singaporeans who planned free and easy trips also affected
Furthermore, the outbreak of Covid-19 in South Korea is also impacting free and easy travellers.
Many citizens who planned trips to South Korea have to cancel their holiday after observing the situation in their country.
From flight tickets to Airbnb arrangements, they have to go through the tedious process of recovering their losses.
Mr Ong is one of the many trying to salvage their holiday plans.
In an interview with MS News, he expresses his frustration in needing to go down to the Singapore Airlines service centre to settle his plane tickets. Simultaneously, he has been calling Airbnb customer services for a refund for his accommodation, to no avail.
On the other hand, Ms Tham and Ms Loewito were luckier.
The host was willing to bend terms and conditions for the distressed Singaporeans and they were able to get a full refund for their accommodation relatively quickly.
However, they still had to pay a penalty fee to refund their plane tickets and have to forgo deposits for SIM cards and WiFi routers they had pre-ordered.
Agencies hopeful that the situation will turn around soon
South Korea used to be a favourite travel destination for Singaporeans and it is unfortunate that many have to forfeit their trips.
Though so, travel agencies reveal that people are already booking tours for the later half of the year as they are hopeful that the situation will turn around soon.
We wish travellers and agencies all the best in making their alternative arrangements.
Featured image adapted from Deccan Chronicle.