TORONTO — Client concerns about the coronavirus have gone beyond Asia and are now impacted existing and future bookings for cruising and travel in general, according to a new survey from ACTA.
That said, ACTA also noted that the majority of agents (50%+) said future bookings were normal for the Caribbean and Mexico, the U.S., Central & South America and Europe (non-cruise).
More than half of agents responding to the ACTA survey (56%) reported that clients with existing bookings are looking for reassurance about whether to travel. Some 27% said they had clients who wanted to cancel, while 17% said they had clients looking to postpone their trip or change their travel dates or destination.
Asia cruises and Asia river cruises were at the top of the list of travel product clients were looking to cancel or change. Next up were Caribbean cruises, Europe bookings and Caribbean and Mexico. There were also some requests to cancel or change U.S. destinations.
Looking at future booking patterns, 87% of respondents said their Asian cruise bookings were coming in slower than usual and 85% said Asian river cruise bookings had slowed.
More than half (58%) of agents said their Europe cruise sales were slower than normal and 47% reported a slowdown for Caribbean cruise sales.
Just over 400 respondents from across Canada took part in the survey, with some 57% working in storefronts; 21% home-based with host agencies; 11% corporate travel; 7% call centre and 5% wholesaler.
Agents are walking a fine line between making sure clients are informed, and at the same time offering reassurance, and promoting spring and summer travel.
ENIT has issued a statement noting that only 0.05% of Italy is affected by measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus. Only 11 out of 7904 Italian cities are affected by such measures, says ENIT: Bertonico, Casalpusterlengo, Castelgerundo, Castiglione D’Adda, Codogno, Fombio, Maleo, San Fiorano, Somaglia, Terranova dei Passerini in Lombardy, and Vo’ Euganeo in Veneto.
The remainder of the country, including the Italian regions where the cities in temporary isolation are located, is safe and accessible. “Italy is a safe country, it is safe to live in Italy and it is safe to travel to Italy,” says ENIT.
Health officials in the D.R. and Mexico have reported the first confirmed coronavirus cases.
Meanwhile news broke late last week that the organizers of ITB Berlin have decided to cancel this year’s event due to the increasing spread of the coronavirus.
The travel industry tradeshow and conference draws thousands of buyers, suppliers and press to Berlin every year from countries around the world, including Canada.
Organizers had said they were deliberating whether or not to proceed with this year’s event, scheduled to take place March 10 – 14.
“Due to the increasing spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Economics have implied a cancellation of ITB Berlin 2020,” says the statement posted at itb-berlin.com.
“The responsible health authority of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf of Berlin has increased the requirements for the event to take place early this evening (18:27). Among other things, the authority orders [that] every trade fair participant must prove to Messe Berlin that they do not come from the defined risk areas or have had contact with a person from the risk areas. Messe Berlin is unable to implement all these requirements.
“Messe Berlin has been pointing out for weeks that the decision to hold or cancel major events can only be made on the basis of the recommendation or instruction of the relevant authorities. Only these authorities have all the necessary information and expertise to draw the right conclusions.
“Dr. Christian Göke, CEO of Messe Berlin GmbH, said: ‘With more than 10,000 exhibitors from over 180 countries, ITB Berlin is of outstanding importance for the global tourism industry. We take our responsibility for the health and safety of our guests, exhibitors and employees very seriously. It is with a heavy heart that we look forward to the cancellation of ITB Berlin 2020, which has now become necessary’.
“The Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Messe Berlin Wolf-Dieter Wolf explains: ‘In their now 54-year history ITB Berlin and Messe Berlin have never before experienced a comparable situation. We would like to thank all exhibitors and partners around the world who have supported ITB Berlin in the past days and weeks, and look forward to continuing our trusting cooperation with our partners in the market’.”