The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire)
Tourists scrambling to find their way home amid cancelled flights
From the beaches of Thailand to the foothills of Everest, tourists in Asia are finding their dream holidays have become nightmares as airlines cancel flights and countries close borders to fight coronavirus.
Thousands of tourists escaping cold weather in Europe are trying to find other ways to get home from the Thai island of Phuket in the Adaman Sea.
Ksenia Vostriakova and her friends were due to fly back to Moscow on April 3 on a Singapore Airlines flight, but it was among those cancelled when the airline slashed its operations.
Now booked with Qatar Airways for April 6 they hope nothing else changes.
“We’re really worried that this flight also might be cancelled,” Ms Vostriakova said, adding that their Thai visas run out in mid-April.
Thailand came under a state of emergency this week as the government gave itself powers to deal with the Covid-19 crisis.
In Thailand yesterday, hundreds of tourists seeking visa extensions were crowded next to a makeshift immigration office set up on the outskirts of Bangkok.
The Airports Council International Asia-Pacific said yesterday that 12 major hubs in Asia-Pacific had seen an average fall in air traffic of more than 80% in the second week of March.
Up to 10,000 tourists are believed to be stranded in Nepal after the government ordered a complete lockdown.
Spring is the tourist season for Nepal when thousands of visitors hike the mountain trails.
At Lukla Airport, the only gateway to the Mount Everest region, there were more than 200 trekkers stranded, according to Dhurba Shrestha, an airport official.
Officials are working on arrangements of special flights to at least get tourists back to the capital Kathmandu.
Yesterday the German government laid on a charter from Nepal’s capital with 305 people, mostly its own nationals, on board.
In Kathmandu a handful of restaurants and hotels were still open, but most shops were closed.
“We were supposed to leave on March 21 but we are still in Nepal and waiting for our embassy to help us arrange a flight,” said New Lee Kuan, from Malaysia.
In Indonesia, more than 2,500 foreign tourists are stranded in Bali.
The government has granted all tourists automatic visa extensions.