Thousands hit as twotravel agencies fold

Local | Erin Chan 24 Mar 2020

Thousands of holidaymakers were left high and dry after two local online travel agencies suspended operations, becoming the first to do so since the coronavirus outbreak.

More than 980 customers of Wefly and GoGoGo Travel lodged a complaint to the Democratic Party as of noon yesterday after they had failed to refund their bookings, involving a total of more than HK$6.15 million. Most refunds were related to the travel restrictions caused by Covid-19.

The Consumer Council has also received 63 complaints regarding Wefly and GoGoGo Travel, involving HK$132,755 and HK$153,666, respectively.

The two agencies, which had their membership revoked by the Travel Industry Council yesterday, called for affected customers to contact the TIC for assistance.

Wefly said on Facebook on Sunday evening that it has ceased operations immediately "as a winding-up petition is filed to the court by our major shareholder."

GoGoGo Travel, whose website has been shut down, said on Facebook earlier that they will be temporarily closed until further notice "due to the severe impact of Covid-19."

Democratic Party yesterday said many people had been requesting refunds from the two agencies but to no avail, including one customer whose refund request has seen no progress for over six months.

"A customer has been requesting a refund on his ticket to Dubai from GoGoGo Travel since September 6, but still there was no response," said Ramon Yuen Hoi-man, a Sham Shui Po district councillor and member of Democratic Party. "The agency ran into a financial crisis, and the customer lost HK$5,300."

The party urged the government to fix loopholes in the Travel Industry Compensation Fund, which so far does not cover those who purchase air tickets only. It also appealed to the Travel Agents Registry and the TIC to take the initiative to review the financial status of licensed travel agencies.

TIC has called on affected customers of the two companies to consult relevant airlines regarding the status of their plane tickets.

The Consumer Council advised affected customers to inquire with banks about the chargeback protection mechanism of credit cards, as well as to apply for the Travel Industry Compensation Fund if the receipts issued by the agencies have been franked with the fund's levy stamp.

The travel sector, which has been one of those hardest hit by the pandemic, was among the recipients of the government's HK$30 billion anti-epidemic fund last month.

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