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1,100 tourists cancel Thai trip after coup
Latest Updated by 2006-09-22 10:35:06
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1,100 tourists cancel Thai trip after coup

Special report: Army coup in Thailand

More than 1,100 Shenzhen residents who had planned to visit Thailand have canceled their trips after a coup befell the country.

Several travel agents complained Thursday that they will suffer major losses in deposits for airline seats, as it would not be correct to let their customers - mostly long-term clients - shoulder the cost.

Zhou Qian, an employee with the city's tourism bureau, said 1,122 of the 1,809 people who had signed up for Thailand tours between Thursday and Oct. 7 had canceled their trips by Thursday afternoon.

"The rest are still hesitating and waiting to see how things will turn out in Thailand," he said. "Some may come back later since visas to the nation are valid for three months."

The bureau has warned travel agents to be "cautious" while arranging tours to Thailand, although all the 453 tourists there as of Thursday were safe and unaffected by the coup, he said.

OCT China Travel Service had originally arranged for two package tour groups to leave for Thailand on Thursday, but only 10 people from one group made the tour, according to an employee surnamed Deng.

"Those who canceled the trips will each suffer economic losses of nearly 1,000 yuan (US$125), since the fees of going through visa procedures and deposit for air tickets cannot be refunded and we are not obliged to pay this part according to travel bureau regulations," she said.

However, Liu Shaoying with Shenzhen Port China Travel Service said her company will bear the losses, since more than 50 of those who canceled the trips to Thailand have opted for other packages to Singapore and Malaysia. "We cannot ask them to pay twice for one journey since most of them are long-term clients who sign up for tours with us each year." She said she was aware of the regulations but her company would not shift the losses, which may amount to 90,000 yuan, to clients.

"We are following the events on TV and the Internet, hoping that the situation there will stabilize and people will come back for the tours," she said.

A manager surnamed Chen with Shenzhen International Travel Service said 350 people canceling their Thailand tours was a heavy blow for him. His company would suffer losses in a way similar to those for Shenzhen Port China Travel Service. "Insurance policies will not cover the losses since it's caused by force majeure. Airlines will not offer a refund since the flights are not canceled and the airport resumes operation," he said.

Meanwhile, traveling to Tibet by train is a popular choice for locals who opt for domestic tours during the National Day holiday week. While the prices for package tours by air to Beijing, Northeast China, Jiuzhaigou in Sichuan and Zhang Jiajie in Hunan Province have increased by around 10 percent due to the rise in fuel costs, railway tours to Tibet cost as low as 5,400 yuan.

More people are choosing DIY tours rather than package tours, as industry insiders predicted more than 20 percent of locals will drive to tour destinations on their own.

Editor: Yan

By: Li Dan Source: Szdaily web edition
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