Corporate travel clients are considering Asia travel bans as the region continues to deal with the Covid-19 coronavirus.
Advantage Travel Partnership chief executive Julia Lo Bue-Said told TTG some organisations using Advantage Business Travel members were assessing whether to limit or freeze both inbound and outbound Asia travel plans.
Despite a number of international event and conference cancellations this week – including the world’s largest mobile phone show, Mobile World Congress in Barcelona – Lo Bue-Said said she was not aware of similar talks being held about regions outside of Asia.
She said the impact of coronavirus on the corporate travel sector was “more widespread” than the leisure market, as agent members were bound by clients’ corporate travel policies.
Advantage is helping members stay “as up-to-date as possible” with a dedicated information hub.
“What’s so important is making sure members have the knowledge they need, which we are pooling together from our members and suppliers across the world, to help them give the best service they can,” Lo Bue-Said added.
James Beagrie, managing director of Meon Valley Travel, said its corporate division was 9% down in February, a dip “directly attributable to coronavirus”.
Beagrie added although Meon did not sell much China, surrounding areas such as Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong were where the agency had seen cancellations.
“It’s a very real risk but there is no need for panic, it just needs to be managed correctly and there are a lot of agents and suppliers doing great work to do that,” he said.
Beagrie explained how Meon had been working on contingency plans to “stay one step ahead” of the ongoing situation, using learnings from previous outbreaks such as avian flu and Sars.
“We need to be asking ourselves what the next phase is going to be and how we can make sure we’re prepared for it,” Beagrie added.