KOTA KINABALU: Travel agencies are unable to refund air tickets to customers for the cancellation of holiday bookings as a result of the Movement Control Order (MCO) imposed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic as the airlines have not made refunds to the tour operators.
Sabah Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Satta) president Datuk Seri Winston Liaw said Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s call for travel agencies to make refunds to their clients, without knowing the latter also faced refund problems with airline companies, could create havoc and chaos to the operators.
He said the association understood Ismail Sabri’s rationale on giving tourists their money back for cancelled travel plans.
“However, travel agencies only act as middlemen in facilitating holiday bookings, earning a small fraction of service fee ranging from one to three percent.
“The airline companies have not refunded air tickets to travel agencies so how are we going to make refunds to our clients?”
Liaw said travel agencies were also in a dilemma as airline companies had delayed the refunds to them due to cash flow issues.
Liaw said Satta hoped that the Federal Government would offer loans to assist airlines such as AirAsia and Malindo Air in overcoming these trying times.
“Once the airline companies’ financial woes are resolved, they could work out refunds for travel agencies and clients.”
He disclosed that the association had appointed Ngui and Associates legal firm to write to the airline companies to request for refunds or credit note to its members.
He said the government and private sector should also start cleaning and maintaining all tourist attractions as well as enhance their service quality in order to leave a good impression on tourists.