HYDERABAD: Strict visa regulations due to COVID-19 have left tourists in the lurch as travel agents refuse to either refund their money or postpone the trips to a later date. City-based students, who had planned scholarship trips to foreign countries that cost them lakhs of rupees, are rendered helpless with no refunds or a choice to cancel their trip. These students are dependent on airlines to cancel the tickets, as only then would they be able to avail any form of compensation. However, airlines are not planning to cancel these trips as they are dealing with huge losses.
Speaking to Express, a city-based healthcare mogul said, “We had planned a vacation in April. We had to cancel it due to the advisory.However, to postpone the trip, we were asked to pay 20 per cent extra, and if cancel the trip, we would get back only 50 per cent of the money”.
Another young MBBS student from the city, Dr Savin Mohan, said, “I was supposed to travel to Europe for a scholarship interview next month. However, with the travel advisory being extended till April 15, I am unable to go on the trip nor postpone it. But I have also been told that I will not be given any form of compensation for cancelling the trip”.
A source from the global travel agency, Thomas Cook, said, “From what we know, cancellations and refunds are not possible via the agency. However, many airlines that have cancelled their trips are providing credit points and vouchers to tourists for future travels. We are, however, postponing the trips free of cost if the said trip is before April 15, otherwise trips post the advisory date will be counted as cancellation”.
A spokesperson of Air India said, “We have not cancelled all our flights. We have just reduced the frequency, but the aircraft are ready for the trips, except for countries like Saudi Arabia, which has banned entry of Indians.”
‘Cancel, postpone events’
State Health Minister Eatala Rajender has suggested that as a precautionary measure against the Coronavirus pandemic, all conferences involving mass gatherings should either be cancelled or postpone.