Hong Kong warns against South Korea travel

Hong Kong, June 9 (IANS) The Hong Kong government on Tuesday issued a red alert warning against travel to South Korea, which is battling an outbreak of Middle East respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, said that Hong Kong has close links with South Korea which is a popular destination for package and study tours, Xinhua news agency reported.

Issuing the Outbound Travel Alert (OTA) can give the tourism industry a clearer direction to do the follow-up work, said Lam, who also called on the public to avoid unnecessary travel to South Korea.

Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong’s Executive Director Joseph Tung Yiu-chung has announced the cancellation of all package tours to South Korea before June 30, excluding cruise tours.

Those who have signed up for South Korea tours before June 1 could have refund of tour fee and passenger departure tax from travel agencies, said Tung, who agreed that the red OTA can facilitate insurance companies’ work on the issue.

Since South Korea is a popular destination for tourists, Tung expected that around 10,000 to 12,000 tourists have been affected since the outbreak of MERS.

Under the three-colour OTA system, black is the highest alert, red the middle and amber the lowest.

The MERS infection cases surged to 95 on Tuesday since the first case was reported on May 20.

So far, eight infected people have died.

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