ALITALIA FLIGHT GROUNDING BACKFIRES ON MAURITIUS’ GOVERNMENT AS TOURIST BAN ANNOUNCED
(Posted 25th February 2020)
While the grounded Alitalia flight AZ772, which arrived in Mauritius yesterday morning, has since returned to Italy with a large number of tourists on board who were denied entry, had the Mauritius government to deal with the fallout of their decision, which rocked the island’s tourism industry after giving their source markets the impression of creating Fortress Mauritius in a shoot from the hip attempt to keep the Corona Virus out of the island. It was announced in Port Louis late yesterday that with immediate effect no travelers from South Korea or northern Italy will be allowed into the country, following a decision earlier in February to ban visitors from China.
However, no decision was made – or at least not announced at this time – about equally affected countries like Iran or other countries with significant COVID-19 numbers.
IATA already estimates the downturn in air transport revenues to reach 30 billion US Dollars as a result of the CoronaVirus pandemic, and tourism sectors around the world are bracing for a downturn of visitors, especially those destinations which relied heavily on Chinese tourists, but increasingly now also from other affected countries.
‘After a period of unprecedented growth for travel over the past decade could 2020 see the first downturn. This is a result of both bans for travelers from certain countries as well as the fear factor which increasingly plays a role in travel patterns and decisions to take vacations. Travelers are uncertain of what to expect in the destinations where they plan to go, worry over aircraft not being sanitized after every stop, worry about failed tests and long incubation periods during which no symptoms show and more.
Cruise lines have sharply reduced capacity in the Asia region, global airlines have literally cut air links with China. The global tourism industry is facing a worse challenge than during the SARS outbreak early this century and we have not yet even taken economic factors into account. With the Chinese economy stuttering as a result of the outbreak, global trade challenged by trade rows between the big blocs and several big tourist source countries on the brink of recession, all this does not spell well for travel growth this year‘ commented a highly ranked tourism official attached to one of the top tourism global bodies, on condition of anonymity.
With key tourism trade fairs coming up in Europe and across the world will tourism boards like Mauritius have some explaining to do over their government’s ad hoc decision yesterday morning about the Alitalia flight.
As mentioned earlier are refund and damages claims expected from tourists with paid for vacations who were denied entry into Mauritius while in turn airlines will be strategizing if yet more routes need to have capacity reduced or be dropped altogether as a result of the situation in Mauritius yesterday morning.
It is understood that other Vanilla Island member countries are equally pondering their next moves and once any information comes to light, about any of these islands taking similar steps, will ATCNews promptly report about the developments.