March 09, 2020
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) wants major tourism service providers, particularly airlines and hotels, to waive normal cancellation charges to save travel agents from suffering a double whammy due to the Covid-19 outbreak with many tourists cancelling or postponing their holidays.
MATTA president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said with the recent spate of cancellations, outbound tour operators might be saddled with an estimated potential liability of RM500mil collected from customers for tour packages departing from February.
He said MATTA had received complaints from travel agents over “double standards” practised by certain airlines which was not only unfair to travel agents but had also confused the public due to the offer of a full or partial refund to the passenger who booked directly with them but not for travel agents.
“As a result, travel agents have been wrongly accused of cheating,” he said.
Tan said in most cases, airlines and hotels do not offer refunds for cancellations and that any refunds given may be in the form
of credit which customers must use by booking a flight or room within a given time period determined by the airlines and hotels.
He said travel agents and tour operators were prepared to explain and assist customers but the panic caused by the Covid-19 outbreak had resulted in many customers, pushing for full refunds, to seek legal redress.
“Instead of being victimised, we hope airlines, hotels and the travelling public will treat travel agents caught in between with fairness. The crux of the issue is that cancellations were not forced onto customers.
“Instead, customers were cancelling of their own accord due to fear of contracting Covid-19,” he said. — Bernama
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