Tuniu, a Chinese tour operator, is in the midst of a dispute with its customers over whether to fully refund travel fees to them after customers asked to cancel trips to the Maldives out of safety concerns, The Paper.cn reported.
Some tourists said they abided by the warning issued by China’s Foreign Ministry, which urged Chinese tourists planning to visit the Maldives to delay their trips until the situation in the country stabilized. At the same time, political tensions on the island nation continue to intensify this month.
Tourist Lan Liya said she was told by a Tuniu employee that she will have to bear all the economic losses if she insists on cancelling the trip. The employee said it was because all Tuniu’s services will happen on islands unaffected by the political unrest.
The staff said the Maldivian government has issued a statement saying all tourism related businesses will be operating. Without the statement, they will not dare to organize any trip to the island country for fear of possible accidents, the staff added.
Lan booked a 6-day independent itinerary worth 50,000 yuan via the tour operator, and she will only be refunded 3,368 yuan if she cancels the trip. Like Lan, many tourists think Tuniu’s way of handling their cases is unacceptable.
A lawyer pointed out that Tuniu has no legal stance to let tourists bear the losses, because they are cancelling the trips due to irresistible forces. Tuniu should refund the fees to the tourists if they haven’t been actually used.
China’s Foreign Ministry suggests its residents not travel to the country before Feb. 28. Ctrip, another online travel agency, said it has cancelled its tour services in the Maldives in February, suggesting tourists travel to the country in April and May.