Coronavirus: China’s Ministry of Tourism Asks Tour Companies to Suspend Operations

China’s Ministry of Tourism has issued a notification to companies in the tour sector to temporarily suspend operations due to the coronavirus outbreak, a spokesperson for Victoria Cruise Lines tells Luxury Travel Advisor. The American-managed company operates river cruise itineraries on the Yangtze River between Chongqing and Yichang. 

“While operations have not been directly impacted by the situation in Wuhan—more than 500 miles away from the American-managed company’s Chongqing office—many passengers travel through transportation hubs, which have been affected by proactive measures taken by the Chinese government, creating logistical difficulties,” the cruise line said. Due to the government order to suspend operations, the line has cancelled sailings through February 16, which affects six off-season winter departures. 

Tour operator Trails of Indochina has been advising against travel to China since Friday, as many popular tourist sites are closed as part of the government’s efforts to contain the spread of the virus. In its latest update, the operator reports that many of them are still closed, including: 

  • The Great Wall at Jinshanling in Beijing
  • Great Wall (Mutianyu Section) in Beijing
  • The Ming Tombs in Beijing
  • Gubei Water Town in Beijing
  • Prince Gong's Mansion in Beijing
  • Forest of Stone Steles Museum in Xian
  • The Ancient City Walls in Xian
  • Wuzheng and most sites in Hangzhou
  • Huangpu River Cruise in Shanghai
  • Mogao Caves in Dunhuang

Shanghai Disneyland closed on Saturday. 

In Hong Kong, officials have barred residents of Hubei Province and those who have visited that province within the past two weeks from entering the city until further notice, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board. Additionally, the government has announced plans to suspend passenger clearance services as of January 30 at the following links between Hong Kong and mainland China: West Kowloon Station of Express Rail Link, Hung Hom station, China Ferry Terminal and Tuen Mun Ferry Terminal, as well as the land crossings at Man Kam To and Sha Tau Kok. 

The following tourist attractions in Hong Kong are also closed:

  • Hong Kong Disneyland Park
  • Ocean Park Hong Kong
  • Noah’s Ark Hong Kong
  • Madame Tussauds Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong Wetland Park
  • The Ngong Ping 360 cable car service
  • Museums under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department
  • Facilities of the Antiquities and Monuments Office

Travel Waivers

A number of major airlines have issued refunds or travel waivers for customers booked to fly to Wuhan, which has been placed on quarantine to contain the virus. 

Air China will issue refunds for all flights booked before midnight on January 24. 

China Airlines is offering passengers who file an application by March 31 the option to rebook without a change fee or difference in tax and far, or a full refund. 

American Airlines is offering travelers who bought their ticket by January 24 and who are scheduled to travel through February 29 the chance to rebook through March 31 with no change fee, so long as they fly between the same city pair in the same cabin. Those who rebook by February 29 can also delay their trip through January 24, 2020, so long as it is up to 331 days after their original ticket date and travel is completed within one year of the original ticket date. A difference in fare may apply. These passengers may also change their origin or destination city.  

United Airlines is offering refunds to travelers scheduled to fly through Wuhan who booked by January 22 and who are scheduled to fly through March 29. Travelers scheduled to fly through Beijing, Chengdu or Shanghai through February 29 can also rebook through that date with no change fee or fare difference so long as they fly between the original city pair in the original cabin. For wholly rescheduled travel departing after March 31, or for a change in departure or destination city, the change fee will be waived, but a difference in fare may apply, the airline said. 

Delta is offering travelers scheduled to fly through Beijing and Shanghai through February 29 the chance to rebook through March 31 with no change fee or difference in fare, so long as travel is between the original city pair. When changing the originally ticketed cities or rebooking for travel beyond March 31, a difference in fare may apply. Customers can also opt to cancel their flights and apply any unused value of the ticket toward the purchase of a new ticket for one year from the original issue date. A change fee and any difference in fare will apply. 

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