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Virus pandemic cripples travel industry in El Paso and beyond

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- Locally-owned Sun Travel has been in business for 55 years, and owner Paul Coleman says he's not only concerned about his company's welfare - his heart goes out to people whose plans have been completely up-ended. Employees have spent countless hours on the phone helping explain to customers all the options they have left at this point, whether it be re-booking, getting refunds and credits, or helping those stranded abroad.

"You've got wedding coming up, funerals to attend, graduations that are being cancelled. There's just so much flux going on right and and we're just trying to assist our customers," says Coleman. "I would say in the last week and a half we've cancelled a million and a half dollars' worth of sales, and I'm so proud of the customer service from our workers to help the travelers get what they need."

The company only had to let one person go in its history - that was right after 9/11. Coleman says this travel crisis is going to be worse than that, in terms of the number of cancellations and lost revenue. He says it's been devastating. To make ends meet, some managers including Coleman and his wife, aren't currently drawing a salary. They are, however, continuing to work, helping customers navigate this travel nightmare.

Coleman refers customers planning a trip in these uncertain times to the CDC website, the World Health Organization, and the Department of State, for travel warnings. Times are tough on his and other travel businesses, but he is optimistic about the future. He says he tries to help others, rather than focus on his own problems. He's also hoping to ride out this storm, and be around to help travelers take their dream vacations soon.

"The good news in all of this is when this is all over and things rebound, there's gonna be some demand and some unbelievable deals as a result," Coleman says.

Coronavirus Video / El Paso / News / Video

Hillary Floren

Hillary Floren co-anchors ABC-7’s Good Morning El Paso.

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