Hotel operators waive fees for Chinese hotel cancellations as Wuhan virus fears grow

Hotel operators waive fees for Chinese hotel cancellations as Wuhan virus fears grow

Staff members check body temperatures of the passengers arriving from the train from Wuhan
Staff members check body temperatures of the passengers arriving from the train from Wuhan to Hangzhou, at Hangzhou Railway Station ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year in Zhejiang province, China, on Jan 23, 2020. (Photo: China Daily via REUTERS)

SHANGHAI: InterContinental Hotels and Hyatt will allow guests to change or cancel stays at most Chinese hotels as a deadly coronavirus outbreak overshadows Chinese New Year holiday plans.

The outbreak began in the central Chinese city of Wuhan and has killed 17 and infected nearly 600 people so far. The holiday takes place between Jan 24-30.

IHG said on its official WeChat account on Thursday that it will allow customers to change or cancel stays scheduled up to Feb 3 across mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan at no additional cost.

The waiver of fees applies to bookings made directly, such as through the company's mobile app or website, it added. It advised customers who booked via third-party vendors to contact those platforms directly.

IHG has 443 hotels in Greater China under different brands, and has another 397 in the pipeline, according to its website. It operates four hotels in Wuhan.

The company has been investing in China, its fastest-growing market and has revamped rooms at Holiday Inn to woo local business travellers.

READ: Wuhan virus outbreak prompts Chinese travel firms to offer free cancellations

However, it has already warned of lower business bookings in China and a downturn in tourism from the protests in Hong Kong. Its shares were 2.2 per cent lower at 4,888 pence at 1131 GMT, making them one of the biggest losers on London's bluechip FTSE 100 index .

Separately, Chicago-headquartered Hyatt said guests who had booked stays through its official channels and are cancelling due to the coronavirus flu or are Chinese guests outbound to its Asia Pacific hotels, can cancel stays or change dates free of charge.

The policy applies to Hyatt's hotels in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, but not the three in Sanya, its customer service representatives said through its WeChat service.

"While all the Hyatt hotels in China remain in operation as usual, we understand the concerns for travelling at the moment," the company said in a statement.

The company runs about 100 hotels in the Greater China region according to its website.

Investment trust Langham said that for all the Langham and Cordis Mainland China Hotels in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Haining, Ningbo, Xiamen, Hefei and Haikou, a full refund will be given for cancellations related to the coronavirus for stays up to and including Feb 9.

Global airlines are also on high alert as the virus spreads, bringing with it concerns of a sharp drop in travel demand if it becomes a pandemic.

The release of seven movies over the Chinese New Year has been also postponed. The holiday is the high season for distributors and cinemas attract huge crowds.

MORE: Our coverage on the Wuhan virus and its developments

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Source: Reuters

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