In the wake of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) declaration of the novel corona virus outbreak as a global health emergency, more than 15 tourists have cancelled their trip to Bhutan as of Friday.
According to Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) those tourists are from China, Singapore and Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Australia.
The tourists were supposed to visit in February, March and April.
However, TCB did not cancel the trip. The tourists themselves wished to cancel the trip.
The executive director of Association of Bhutanese Tour Operator (ABTO), Sonam Dorji said that they have requested TCB to facilitate to refund the visa or to postpone their trip.
“Since the entry point of the country, India, Thailand, Nepal and Singapore have been reported with the novel corona virus, we are creating awareness among the tour operators,” said Executive Director.
He said that there is thorough screening at the airport.
During the question and answer session in Parliament on Friday, the Prime Minster Dr. Lotay Tshering said that the government has asked the authority concerned to not to issue visa to Chinese tourists who are from Wuhan city.
The Director General of TCB, Dorji Dhradhual said that they are working closely in collaboration with the health ministry and have issued travel advisory to all the travel agents for tourists. “We are guided by the ministry of health for precautions and prevention.”
“If it is a genuine case of corona virus outbreak, TCB will facilitate in cancelling their trip. But we cannot refund the visa fee, as per the law. We can refund only SDF and other charges,” said the DG.
The Prime Minister also said that for precaution the government is even planning to send a few doctors to entry point of the tourists like Bangkok airport for screening.
Lyonchhen also said that if required, even flights could be cancelled like in other countries for safety reasons.
According to the WHO, so far 19 countries are affected with the virus.
During the meeting with the ABTO, Health Minister, Dechen Wangmo adviced the tour operators in tantrum with the international recommendation that inbound tourists from the Wuhun China will not be allowed to enter Bhutan and similarly in case of an outbreak in the region. Lyonpo also said that tour operators that for everyone entering Bhutan will be mandatorily required to fill health declaration forms and screen for signs and symptoms of corona virus at the point of entry.
Health minister Dechen Wangmo said that World Health Organization has identified Bhutan as a high-risk area for the virus. Since the virus is spread in the region.
Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu