State-run Saigontourist on Thursday called off tour trips to Wuhan in China as an outbreak of coronaviruses has killed more than a dozen people and infected hundreds there.
The firm has already scrapped tour visits to Wuhan, where a new coronavirus strain has claimed 17 lives and infected nearly 600, said Doan Thi Thanh Tra, marketing and media director for travel at Saigontourist.
There are eight other known cases around the world – Thailand has confirmed four cases, while the United States, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan have each reported one, according to Reuters.
The company was scheduled to operate tours to Zhangjiajie-Fenghuang on Saturday, which is the first day of the new lunar year, which included a trip around Wuhan for one day.
But Saigontourist has changed its itinerary and will only let its customers carry out transit procedures in Wuhan in order to go on to another city, amid the coronavirus epidemic causing deadly pneumonia.
The change was made after consulting the tourists, Tra said, adding that those having bought tours including transit in Wuhan will be moved to other packages.
Saigontourist is monitoring the virus situation and working with its partners in China so as to properly handle other tours to the neighboring country.
Some other travel firms on Thursday received questions from customers who had booked tours to visit China on the occasion of the coming Lunar New Year festival.
Some tourists asked about destinations and demanded adjustments to their tours, particularly after Taiwan confirmed the first infected case.
A few customers have contacted Lien Bang Travelink to alter their tours and the firm has provided options for them to consider, said Tu Quy Thanh, director of the company.
Vietnamese tourists mainly visit Zhangjiajie-Fenghuang, rather far from Wuhan, which is the epicenter of the virus pandemic, Thanh added.
“Hubei, where the pneumonia first broke out, in central China is not Vietnamese visitors’ favorite destination,” Thanh said.
“However, we are closely monitoring the epidemic and waiting for information from tourism authorities.”
Domestic travel firms say they are cooperating with partners in China to be informed of the virus outbreak.
Vietravel, another state-run company, said they do not operate tours to Wuhan but the firm still keeps an eye on such infections.
If the situation gets more complicated, the company will be willing to cancel tours, it noted.
Authorities at Tan Son Nhat International Airport have been measuring the body temperature of passengers to detect any unusual health signs.
Vietnam is closly watching over the fast-spreading virus from China and will issue due warnings, Nguyen Trung Khanh, general director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
“The Vietnamese Ministry of Health has issued dispatches demanding heightened measures to fight acute respiratory infections caused by the coronavirus as well as the distribution of leaflets at border gates to raise public awareness,” Khanh said.
“We are waiting for responses from the Consular Department under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the World Health Organization in order to issue timely warnings to tourists.
“Travel companies are now proactive in getting updates on the situation.”