Tours axed as cruise group imposes coronavirus controls

LOCAL tour operators saw bookings cancelled this week after the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) imposed a ban on passengers or crew who have been to mainland China in the preceding 14 days from boarding cruises.

Nyree Heathman of Estancia Excursions told Penguin News that the majority of the 52 bookings they'd previously received from the Coral Princess's scheduled visit on February 26 had now cancelled due to the new controls.
Ms Heathman said she expected more cancellations to come in as news of the new rule spread and other customers got in touch. 
Asked whether there was a possibility of getting last-minute bookings to replace cancellations, Ms Heathman was not optimistic: "There are bound to be some [passengers] who get in touch once they're on board and realise they need a tour for Stanley, but I doubt I'll be able to fill all the seats," she said. Ms Heathman said the cancellations will have a knock-on effect on drivers, who will lose the day's work.
Tour operator Patrick Watts told Penguin News that he had received four cancellations for passengers booked to come off the Celebrity Eclipse on February 11. 
Another operator, Jimmy Curtis also said that he had seen 12 passengers cancel tours as a result of the new controls, and has been warned by a travel agency that more cancellations are likely.
Tourism Coordinator for Sulivan Shipping, Carli Sudder, told Penguin News the company was aware of the CLIA statement and fully supported its proactive approach. Ms Sudder said Sulivan have worked with cruise lines to distribute the FIG Chief Medical Officer's advice on the subject.
Ms Sudder said Sulivan themselves had not seen any direct effect in terms of cancellations of shore excursions.


Industry "well-equipped"
In a statement, CLIA said that the association's member lines maintain close contact with health professionals and regulators around the world, including the World Health Organization (WHO), and are continually assessing and modifying policies and procedures as developments emerge. 
"This includes the modification of itineraries, where needed, in light of evolving circumstances, as well as health, travel and contact screening where appropriate, for guests and crew who have recently travelled from or through the affected area consistent with prevailing guidance from global health authorities. 
"Screening protocols allow for informed decisions on a case- by-case basis whether a guest or crewmember will be denied boarding."
CLIA nevertheless emphasised that the industry is well equipped to manage such situations: "The cruise industry is one of the most well-equipped and experienced when it comes to managing and monitoring health conditions of passengers and crew. Cruise lines take precautions to conduct passive as well as active screening of passengers and crew for illness prior to boarding when circumstances demand. 
"Furthermore, CLIA members implement outbreak prevention and response measures and their ships must be fitted with medical facilities, shipboard and shore side medical professionals available around the clock, 24/7, to provide initial medical care in the event of illness and prevent disease transmission.”