Swine flu: Travel agents respond to Foreign Office advice

Swine flu: Travel agents respond to Foreign Office advice

Travel agents have responded swiftly to advice from the Foreign Office that Britons should avoid travelling to Mexico.

Agents were quick to contact relevant customers as soon it emerged the threat alert had been raised.

“We pulled out the files and fortunately we only have one person due to go in a few weeks’ time,” said Holiday Lounge director George Reynolds in Leicester.

Airstream Travel director Christine Barker in Wigan said she had customers booked on a Jetset trip to Mexico for the end of July: “Jetset is contacting people already at the resorts or due to depart imminently, so our clients will just wait for the moment.” she said.

Tour operators’ reaction to the swine flu crisis provoked mixed responses from agents.

Holiday Lounge managing director Paul Moss said he had trouble getting through to the Thomson call centre. He said: “I was directed to a dedicated helpline, was kept on hold for an hour and 20 minutes only to be cut off.”

Thomson has apologised to the agent in question, saying that its team was put under pressure by the Foreign Office advice change, which saw them deal with 35,000 calls in one morning.

But there was praise for operators, too. “We’re getting updates every few hours,” said Hays Travel communications manager Caroline Hays. “As of now, everything has been cancelled and we’re finding something else for customers due to depart in the next week.”

According to estimates by the Mexico Tourism Board, just a few thousand British holidaymakers were in the country when the outbreak of the virus was announced, due to it being low season.


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