COVID-19 outbreak has no doubt dealt a huge blow on the tourism and travel industry with thousands of tourists forced to stay back at home.
Understandably, the pandemic has thrown a force to the airline industry which now finds itself under criticism for failing to give refunds on already booked flights. The airlines are instead issuing travel vouchers in a bid to secure their cash flow.
This is now a full-blown issue that has sought the Intervention of International Air Travel Association (IATA) as travel agents want their clients to be refunded since they could not make it to travel due to the pandemic that is coronavirus.
Kenya’s national carrier, Kenya Airways, for example, has pledged to give a one-year travel voucher citing that it is low on funds which have been occasioned by the grounding of international flights for more than one month. It has resorted for a bailout by the State.
IATA, on the other hand, says it is true that airlines across the globe are in financial turmoil, therefore, any refunds will be guided by the commercial policy guideline by airlines in determining the validity of refunds on tickets.
The standard procedure followed is for any travel agents to submit a request for a refund through the airline’s IATA regulated portal. The request for refund is assessed and the airline authorizes it. The refund is remitted to the travel agent who gives it back to his/her client.
Be as it may, if you are among those who had already paid for a flight ticket to Africa for tourism purposes, the clarion call is “postpone it, do not cancel it!”
It is a brutal fact that the pandemic’s fate remains unknown. How long it lasts or when it ends is just something no one can answer at the moment.
However, one sure thing is that this too, shall pass and every the tourism sector now consigned to oblivion will thrive once again and this is where it will all begin for you.
If you had prior plans with your travel agents, let them remain as such because this shall pass and your dream to immerse yourself into the African wild and experience her magic will come to reality.
For now, stay at home and keep safe as we battle COVID-19.