Since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern last month, there have an increasing number of cases reported around the world.
There is a heightened risk of sustained local transmission in certain countries, namely China where the virus was first reported, as well as Japan and South Korea. Amid fears a global pandemic could be declared, the Australian Government has extended its travel ban for flights from China for another week amid.
Manager of Cosmos Tours, Jacqui Preketes says while they have been receiving enquiries from concerned travellers, they haven’t had any cancellations at this stage when it comes to travel to Europe.
“It’s really affected predominantly Asia and flights that go via Asia. Most of the flights to specifically Greece, they’re really going through the Middle East. So there haven’t been any cancellations as such, but I can only talk about our clientele at this point,” Ms Preketes told Neos Kosmos. “But we’re certainly getting enquiries about it; I’ve had three questions today.”
She says that most of their clients, particularly those travelling to Europe, are departing from May through October, and so are likely waiting for updates in the coming months before taking any action.
Manager of Prahran Tours, Peter Alisandratos said their experiences have been similar.
“We have been receiving a number of calls, but for the moment, not one person has cancelled their flights,” he said.
“Most people that are travelling to Greece this year are travelling from 1 May onward, and they may wait until the final moment to cancel their tickets, they don’t have a problem. But it’s not as big a concern as it has been presented in Asia.”
If however the coronavirus continues on the path it has, with more cases reported in Europe, namely in Italy and Greece, Ms Preketes says that it will be a tough year for the travel industry.
“It will be disastrous, there’s no question about that,” she said.
Mr Alisandratos shared the sentiment.
“It would be a big blow to the economy of Australia and for travel agencies, because this is what we survive on, and also a blow for the Greek community.”
Ms Preketes suggests those concerned subscribe to the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Smart Traveller website for up to date information on specific destinations directly from the Australian government.
Meanwhile individual airlines have released their own respective policies on the coronavirus.