ITAA Advice to Travellers in China

24 February 2020

The ITAA have issued an updated statement amid the Coronavirus outbreak

Dublin 19th February 2020    The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) is advising that Irish travellers and holidaymakers follow the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs and avoid all non-essential travel to China amid the coronavirus outbreak in a number of Chinese cities. The ITAA is also advising affected holidaymakers in the country to follow the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Chinese local authorities and accommodation providers.

The ITAA is advising travellers to read the Department of Foreign Affairs travel advice for the country they are travelling to, which includes entry requirements and a link through to download the DFA Travelwise smartphone app that provides specific travel health advice for countries. Travelwise advises that travellers currently in countries that are reporting cases of Novel Coronavirus, otherwise known as Coronavirus or COVID-19, should follow local public health advice. Travellers should keep up to date on the country advice during their visit.

Enhanced health screening procedures have been put in place at arrival and departure areas in many countries. Travellers should comply with these processes and take relevant preventative measures to reduce the risk of exposure.

DFA travel advice for China

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) continue to advise against all travel to Hubei Province, and advise against all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China. Please note this does not include Hong Kong and Macao.

The ITAA advise that customers imminently due to travel on holidays or flights which include mainland China should speak to their travel provider. Customers who are imminently due to travel on package holidays which include mainland China should be offered alternative arrangements by their travel provider. If no suitable alternatives are available, package holiday customers should be offered a full refund.

Passengers who have booked flights directly with an airline and are imminently due to travel should contact the airline to discuss their options. 

DFA advice for travellers in China 

The Chinese government continues to impose further restrictions on movement within China in response to the coronavirus outbreak. If you are in China and are able to leave, you should do so.  The ITAA recommends that customers currently in China wishing to return early should contact their travel provider to discuss their options. 

Coronavirus Q&A

Please see below for a Q&A for customers who are planning to travel to or from China. For full information relating to the Coronavirus outbreak please visit the Government website for more information on the risks and advice on the preventative measures.  

Q: What happens if my travel plans are affected? 
A: If the Department  of Foreign Affairs advises against travel to a destination and your holiday arrangements have been affected, your travel provider will get in touch and advise you of the options open to you.
Travellers are advised to read the Department of Foreign Affairs travel advice for the country they are travelling to, which includes a link through to download the DFA Travelwise smartphone app that provides specific travel health advice for countries. 

Q: If only certain parts of my package holiday are affected does my tour operator have to refund the full package or only the parts that are cancelled?
A: Tour operators can offer alternative holidays if they are able to. If these mean a significant change to the original arrangements, for example spending the whole or part of the holiday in a different country, you aren’t obliged to accept the alternative and will be entitled to a full refund of the package price.  

Q: When am I not entitled to a full refund? 
A: If you have booked a package and are not due to travel imminently, tour operators will decide on an ongoing basis how far in advance they’ll begin offering alternative arrangements or providing refunds. The Department of Foreign affairs advice is in relation to imminent departures and it is too early to say that your holiday can’t go ahead as planned. Therefore, customers with future departure dates will be required to wait to find out whether the advice changes and their holiday can continue as planned. If you cancel early you may have to pay cancellation charges.

Q: If I cannot follow my initial travel plans due to the Coronavirus outbreak, am I entitled to compensation?
A: You won’t be entitled to any compensation, as the reason for the holiday not continuing is outside the control of the tour operator. 

Q: I’ve booked a flight to mainland China, what are my rights?
A: Speak to your airline or travel provider to check what the airline’s policy is. You should also check your travel insurance to see if this will cover any additional costs.