Coronavirus threat triggers fear over Chinese parcels, impacts Ranthambore tourism

While most Chinese travellers have already cancelled their Tiger Safaris, cancellations are pouring in everyday and the travel trade is worried about their mounting losses.

Published: 12th February 2020 12:19 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th February 2020 12:19 AM   |  A+A-

Ranthambore National Park

A tiger rests in a pond at the Ranthambore National Park.(File Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

JAIPUR: The coronavirus outbreak in China, which has spread to numerous countries including India, has now cast a shadow over the postal and travel services in Rajasthan. Packages coming from China are being handled with a great deal of fear and suspicion by Postal employees even though the P&T Department is yet to issue any specific order about Chinese packages.

"We are receiving 20-25 packages from China every day. Given the fears over coronavirus, these parcels are being handled cautiously. Soon, we will issue special orders about these parcels that come from China," Jagdish Singh Gurjar, Postal Superintendent, Udaipur Postal Division said

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About 300-400 parcels are received from China on a daily basis in Rajasthan which mainly contains clothes or electronic goods like mobile accessories. The majority of Chinese parcels are received in major districts like Jaipur, Jodhpur, Kota, Alwar and Udaipur. Although many doctors and health experts believe that the coronavirus cannot infect anyone merely by touching a parcel, the fears of the deadly virus are gripping countless people.

However , Dr. Rateesh Sareen ,Sr.Pathologist of SDMH Hospital in Jaipur has a different take he says that parcels from infected areas have the potential of transmitting the virus. " Coronavirus commonly spreads from infected persons mainly through air, cough and sneeze and close contact. It can also spread by touching an object or surface with virus presence and later touch your mouth, nose or eyes without washing hands.  Just to be on the safe side we have to assume that it can be transferred through parcels or letters as well and thus precaution is needed", he said.
 
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Meanwhile, the increasing spread of the new virus from China has become a major threat to the tourism business in Ranthambore as very few tourists are now taking the risk of travelling to the Tiger Sanctuary. The number of tourists coming to Ranthambore has declined sharply. Last year, 9853 foreign tourists had visited Ranthambore by February but so far this year in February the number has reached just 4235. 

While most Chinese travellers have already cancelled their Tiger Safaris, cancellations are pouring in everyday and the travel trade is worried about their mounting losses. Most tourists who had made the booking but are now cancelling their Safaris want refunds but strict norms regarding refunds are making life difficult for hoteliers and travel agents. 

According to rules, only of one cancels 280 days before they get 100% refund. After that , if they cancel 220 days prior the refund will be 75% and 180 days prior will fetch a refund of just 50%. Later then this ,there is no policy of a refund.Sumit Bansal, ACF, Ranthambore Tiger Project remarks , ‘‘Lots of tourists want a full refund of the amount that they had paid in booking Safaris. We are holding discussions with our senior officials in the Department on this issue.’’

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