Travel agencies facing hardships amid coronavirus

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — In light of the Diamond Princess Cruise quarantine for coronavirus (COVID-19) and the first coronavirus death in Korea, travel agencies say, it’s getting harder and harder to do business.

“As far as ticketing is concerned, about 20 percent is reduced… Tours going out is almost 100 percent paused at the moment,” said Albert Kim, Orient Travel Inc. president. “So overall, we have been going through a hard time.”

Albert Kim has been in the tour business for more than three decades.

Recently phones at this travel agency have been ringing, with lots of people inquiring about their trips.

“About 30 – 40 percent of all the calls are having some questions about can we cancel these, can we cancel that…. and is it safe to go there?,” said Kim.

Last month when coronavirus broke out in China, he cancelled all his China tours. With cruise ship tours and flights getting cancelled every other week, he’s worried it’ll only get worse, especially with one of the busiest times for travel coming up in March and April.

“What worries me is not what we are losing right now, it’s in the future… the next couple of months,” said Kim. “Springtime, a lot of people, especially honeymoon season, a lot of people should be in and out.”

He also said discouraging travel on cruise ships around Asia will affect more than just the cruise companies.

“Tours is not only the cruise tours, there is a land tour too,” said Kim. “And people take that as okay, don’t go [to] this place.”

But one bright side to all of this, Kim said honeymoon packages to Hawaii are doing really good.

“They don’t want to travel to China, they don’t want to travel to south Asia. They’d rather come to a safe place, and Hawaii is, of course… everybody wants to come,” said Kim. “We’re just barely surviving with the inbound tours.”

Kim said they are carefully watching the situation in Asia, and they are just hoping for a breakthrough for a vaccine so that business can return to normal.

“Hopefully we catch up all the lost business, but we’ll see. Right now is the hardest time,” said Kim.

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