Refund requests under review

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 December, 2008, 12:00am

The Consumer Council is in talks with local travel agents on how to deal with refund requests from travellers who had booked tours to Thailand.

Its chief executive, Connie Lau Yin-hing, said yesterday that it was considering further measures to protect travellers' rights after the week-long blockade of Suvarnabhumi international airport in Bangkok.

Although the airport is to reopen fully soon, Ms Lau said some tourists might be hoping to change bookings they had made to Thailand over Christmas to avoid possible trouble.

'We are in discussion with some travel agencies on this issue. We'll see if it is necessary to refund the tourists in case they no longer want to go there,' Ms Lau said.

Meanwhile, she added, the consumer watchdog was also considering expanding the coverage of stamp duty to include flight tickets so that tourists could be better insured.

'But we need to take into account the relevant issues before making a decision, like whether the airlines still need to pay refunds to tourists if they are closed down,' she said.

A spokeswoman for Hong Thai Travel Services said customers heading to or passing through Bangkok up to next Tuesday were allowed to claim a refund, change to another destination or buy other travel products within the next half year.

'We will watch closely what's happening in Bangkok in the coming days. So far, we have not made any decision over the refunding matter for tour packages after December 9.'

Wing On Travel is accepting requests for a refund for tours setting off on or before December 11.

'People usually book their Christmas tours at the end of November. Many of them have seen the troubles at the Bangkok airport and made changes to their travel plan already,' a company spokeswoman said.