Passengers wearing masks to prevent contracting Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) walk past a thermal imaging camera at Incheon International Airport in South Korea. Photo: Reuters
Many Vietnamese tourists have canceled planned trips to South Korea, where the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) has killed seven out of 95 infection cases so far.
Tu Quy Thanh, director of Ho Chi Minh City-based Lien Bang Travelink Company, was quoted by Saigon Times Online as saying on Sunday that about 20 percent of his clients who booked tours for this month have scrapped their plan and received refunds.
The company, which often sent two to four groups of tourists to South Korea a month prior to the MERS outbreak, also suspended all their tours scheduled for next month, he said.
The tours will be resumed when the containment of the outbreak shows positive signs, possibly in August, Thanh said.
An unnamed director of a travel company in Hanoi reported the cancellation rate at nearly 30 percent, and that it was increasing.
In the meantime, the office of the Korea Tourism Organization in Vietnam has sent a notification to local tour operators, saying that it is still safe to travel to South Korea.
Places reported with outbreaks are located in Gyeonggi Province's Pyeongtaek City, far from tourist destinations like Seoul and Busan, according to the office.
Moreover, there are no chances that tourists come in contact with patients in a narrow space to get infected with the virus, it said in response to Vietnamese travel companies' inquiries for updates on the situation.
As a favorite destination among Vietnamese, South Korea reported over 86,000 arrivals from Vietnam over the first five months, and more than 140,000 last year.