Virus scare slows down cruise trips

Deccan Chronicle.  | Sanjay Samuel Paul

Nation, Current Affairs

Travel agents and online bookings are not avoiding Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, with many cancellations and postponements.

Before the Chinese New Year, most Indian agencies offered heavy discounts and for the last five years, Indians have been major passengers on cruise lines.

Hyderabad: The coronavirus pandemic has led to a drastic drop in Indians opting for sea cruises. Cruise lines in the region are packed with Indian tourists, particularly senior citizens and couples from January to March each year. Trips are not being booked this year.

Before the Chinese New Year, most Indian agencies offered heavy discounts and for the last five years, Indians have been major passengers on cruise lines.  About 1.5 million were expected in Southeast Asia for the summer of 2020, but there are no bookings this year.

Travel agents and online bookings are not avoiding Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, with many cancellations and postponements. Destination weddings in Singapore and Thailand are also a no-show this year. Indian weddings are a major market for these countries but Coronavirus has forced weddings to local locations instead of offshore.

Si Ting Lim, area director for India and South Asia, who was in town to promote Sing-apore said: “India provides the third largest number of tourists for Singapore, after China and Indonesia.

Hyderabad is one of the major sources of Indian tourists. As Singapore is a good destination for families and the visa takes only three days, it is preferred. In 2019 there were 1.418 million Indian tourists.”

Mr G.B. Sridhar, the regional director for India, the Middle East and south Asia, insisted that Singapore was still a safe place to visit due to precautions taken.

Since last month, there have been 100 per cent cancellations to China, and 70 per cent cancellations to Eastern countries.

“Many Indian tourists will be going on vacation to other parts of the country from the last week in March after board examinations are over," said Bandaru Bhaskar of Travel Masters.

“They are cancelling or postponing their vacation thanks to coronavirus.”

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