'World is like upside down': Coronavirus scare impacting travel industry
VANCOUVER -- As the number of coronavirus cases skyrockets around the world, some travellers are growing increasingly concerned.
Glynnis Chan, the owner of Happy Times Travel in Vancouver, says her business is suffering a steep decline.
"Every day you receive negative news: more cases. And more people want to cancel the trips, even though our clients book for March, April, May -- they still want to cancel it," she says.
All those cancellations have added to a big loss. She estimates compared to this time last year, her business has dropped by 40 per cent. Consequently, she's had to cut her employees' hours by half.
"I've worked for the travel agency for 40 years, and it's never happened like this. So much global fear," she says.
Chan says this current outbreak appears to be doing more damage compared to SARS because there are nearly 30 countries with confirmed cases of the coronavirus so far.
"The world is like upside down and we don't know what we're going to do," she says.
She says nowadays they are busy helping customers with trip cancellations and monitoring airlines' goodwill policy changing.
Air Canada is currently extending its policy to allow passengers travelling to and from Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Wuhan to rebook flights for free.
Chan says the majority of her customers are cancelling flights but not rescheduling them for a later date.
She believes the fear will continue to grow and will also spill out to the cruise line industry after people see the plight of those stuck on a quarantined ship off the coast of Japan.
"Even though people are going to Europe or the Caribbean, people are thinking: Will I have the problem? I think the impact to the cruise line business will be worse in the coming couple of months," she says.
As she braces for more cancellations, Canada has issued a travel advisory recommending passengers avoid non-essential travel to China and to avoid all travel to Hubei province, which is the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.
Flight Centre is also seeing trip cancellations to China. Allison Wallace, a spokesperson for the company, tells CTV News since most major airlines have pulled direct flights to China, there have been many cancellations. She says those who are going to China for a specific reason, such as business or visiting family, are not rebooking their trips, but those who were planning on going for a holiday are changing their plans to another destination or putting off travel for the short term.