Tourists refunded as travel bubble bursts

Hong Kong | 22 Nov 2020 6:20 pm

Hongkongers who planned trips to Singapore face both disappointment and hassle as the city’s travel bubble with the lion city burst before its official launch, originally scheduled for today.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah announced on Saturday the launch of the bubble will be postponed for two weeks due to a resurgence in Covid cases in Hong Kong.

“Doing so is necessary to avoid any inconvenience caused by the abrupt changes of the scheme to passengers, particularly those who need to return to Hong Kong in a short time,” Yau said.

Due to the suspension, the two designated airlines for the Air Travel Bubble, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific allow customers who have booked tickets from today and December 6 to request a full refund.

Customers of Cathay Pacific can also change their booking free of charge.

However, travelers who bought their tickets on booking websites or travel agencies will have to work through third parties.

Yuen Chun-ning, chief executive of WWPKG, said more than 30 customers have applied to go to Singapore through its travel agencies and a full refund will be provided for affected customers.

Steven Huen Kwok-chuen, executive director of EGL, said as their tour groups are estimated to begin around mid-December, so the suspension does not have a short-term effect on the travel agency.

However, the suspension indicates a further delay for the travel industry to revive.

“It is not good for the long run because this is the first time collaboration between Hong Kong and Singapore, if it was not suspended I think two or three more countries will also have this kind of scheme [with Hong Kong],” Huen said.

President of Hong Kong Insurance Professionals Federations Roy Cheung Wai-leung said those who bought travel insurance might not be compensated as the red outbound travel alert is still in force on Singapore, so travelers heading there should be informed about the risk.

He added travel insurance will only take effect when the customers depart from Hong Kong, so those who want to seek a refund for their trip would have to contact relevant travel agencies instead.

“As the epidemic situation has continued for some time, many insurance companies have listed the new coronavirus as an existing risk, travel insurance purchased after a specified date will generally not include Covid-19 in the insurance coverage,” Consumer Council wrote.

The Consumer Council suggested consumers understand the terms of the contract and seek inquiry from insurance companies, they should also keep their insurance policy and receipts for easy follow-up.

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