European travel firms cancel trips to China as death toll rises

Tourists from an Air China flight from Beijing wear protective masks as they arrive at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, France, January 26, 2020. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Some tour operators in Europe are cancelling trips to China and offering customers refunds for bookings as concerns grow about the spread of the new flu-like virus, triggering a rout in major travel and airline stocks.

Steps to limit travel to China came after the death toll rose to over 1000, with more than 2,740 people infected by the virus. 

In Germany, Studiosus, a specialist online travel agent which sells holidays of up to 20 days to China for about 3,665 euros ($4,065) has cancelled trips until the middle of April, it said on its website. 

The move affected several hundred travellers, according to a spokeswoman for the company which last year had 2,300 customers travelling to China. The company’s next tour would have started on March 15.

Customers with a reservation leaving before May 31 can rebook or cancel their visit, it said.

Also in Germany, travel company DER Touristik will refund or change bookings for trips to China up to the end of March, it said in an email. At the moment, it has about 100 customers in China.

European travel firms cancel trips to China as death toll risesThe body representing France’s tour operators, SETO, has recommended members suspend tours to China until at least Feb. 21 and offer customers the option of changing their booking.

Earlier, Russian tour operators stopped selling package holidays to China.

Such measures by foreign tour operators are likely to deepen concerns about the potential long-term damage to the global tourism and airline industries. More than 140 million foreign tourists visited the country last year, according to industry estimates.