Andaman suspends all Tourism Activities amidst COVID-19 fear but tourists struggle with refunds; AATO intervenes

Port Blair, Mar 16: The Andaman and Nicobar Administration has suspended all tourism activities to contain spread of Novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) in these far flung Islands but now tourists seems to have finding it difficult to get refund for cancellation of tour packages.

 

Raising this issue the president of Andaman Association of Tour Operators (AATO) Mr. M Vinod has now requested the Lt Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands to issue directives to all tourism service providers for mandatory refund to tourists & travel agents for all cancellations in view of the COVID-19 spread crisis.

 

In a letter addressed to the Lt Governor Mr. M Vinod added that we do want to ensure that the tourists cancelling their tour plan and given their due refund.

 

“Since a major portion of package cost charged by the travel agents amount to the hotel and cruise charges, it becomes hard for the agents to refund the customers unless they get full refund from the  Airlines,hoteliers & cruise operators. At this hour of crisis, it is the moral responsibility of the Airlines,hoteliers and cruise operators to give cent percent refund to the tourists and agents for their unused services. Especially in the larger interest of brand Andaman, which is known to be tourism friendly destination. Unfortunately, some hoteliers and other service providers are hesitant to give refund to the tourists/agents and are compelling the agents to use the advance paid in future bookings and the tourists to postpone their plan. This your excellency, is a wrong practice and is bound to bring a bad name to the islands,” Mr. M Vinod pointed out.

 

Mr. Vinod further added that since the Corona outbreak is for an unpredictable period, it is not right to compel the tourists/agents to postpone their tour plan by holding their advance money.

 

“Instead in this hour of crisis we should be more generous to refund the advance money to the tourists who are already suffering losses due to their tour cancellations. Small travel agents who are already suppressed by the burden of cancellations and loan repayments have no means to refund the tourists unless the hoteliers, cruise operators and other service providers give full refund of their unused services,” Mr. Vinod added.

 

This year Andaman and Nicobar Tourism Industry already witness dip in number of tourist arrival and COVID 19 has once again his Andaman Tourism Industry hard.

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