The government’s Tourism Crisis Management Office (GCCT) issued a travel advisory for South Korea on Tuesday, urging the public not to travel to the country.
In a related development, Andy Wu Keng Kuong, president of the Macau Tourism Industry Association – also known as Travel Industry Council of Macau said that local travel agencies have been negotiating with airlines on the possibility of launching more flights to other Asian destinations to cater to those who originally intended to travel to South Korea.
The advisory came the day after the Health Bureau (SSM) raised its response level for the potentially fatal Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) to “high alert”. The GCCT said that locals who are in South Korea and those who can’t avoid visiting the country should follow the recommendations of the Health Bureau: “avoid visiting medical institutions or contact with local medical staff, be aware of personal hygiene by washing hands frequently, and wear a mask in public areas”.
The office also said in its advisory that it had received 38 enquiries about MERS, adding that residents could call its hotline 2833 3000 or the Health Bureau’s hotline 2870 0800 for information.
The Health Bureau said in a statement on Tuesday that the bureau had tested five suspected MERS patients between 7 p.m. on Monday and 5 p.m. on Tuesday, and all were negative.
Air Macau said on Tuesday that passengers who have booked their flights to Seoul and are scheduled to depart before July 31 could change their departure date or destination from today. However, the departure date could not exceed three months from the original date, the airline said.
In addition, Macau Express Travel General Manager Joe Wong Chi Lek told The Macau Post Daily in an interview on Tuesday his agency had cancelled two tours slated to depart for Seoul next week. He estimated that his agency’s revenue would drop about 20 to 30 percent because of South Korea’s MERS crisis.
“South Korea has become a popular destination in the last two to three years, on a par with Japan and Thailand,” said Wong, adding that the country accounted for about a fifth of its tours before the MERS crisis. (macaunews/macaupost)