Travel Agent NewsAirlines, hotels should step up to assist agents, tour operators caught in a crisis, says trade association

MATTA calls for a ‘fair go’ for travel agents

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Travel agents are being caught in a double whammy when clients cancel or postpone their holidays, says MATTA president.
Travel agents are being caught in a double whammy when clients cancel or postpone their holidays, says MATTA president. Photo Credit: lena.serditova/ iStock / Getty Images Plus

KUALA LUMPUR - The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) has called a high-level meeting on Thursday, March 12, to outline  urgent matters relating to Covid-19’s impact on travel agents in the country.

MATTA wants major tourism services providers, particularly airlines and hotels, to waive normal cancellation charges to save travel agents from a double whammy due to the Covid-19 outbreak with many tourists cancelling or postponing their holidays.

In a statement, MATTA president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said that with the recent spate of cancellations, outbound tour operators may be saddled with an estimated potential liability of RM500 million (US$118.1m) collected from customers for tour packages departing from February.

“Regrettably, MATTA has received complaints from travel agents concerning double standards practised by AirAsia, which is not only unfair to travel agents but also confuses the public.

“This is because the budget airline is offering full or partial refunds to passengers that booked directly with them but not for travel agents that have placed group bookings.

“Travel agents and tour operators are prepared to explain and assist the consumer, but the panic caused by the Covid-19 outbreak has also caused many customers, adamant in their demands for full refunds, to seek legal redress.

“Instead of being victimised, we hope airlines, hotels and the travelling public will treat travel agents caught in between with fairness,” Tan added.

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