With the emergence of coronavirus and the related press coverage, it is understandable that this will have raised questions and concerns regarding making travel plans.
As your local specialist travel agent, we would like to take this opportunity to provide some reassurance and clarity. We are closely monitoring the situation as it evolves. We are receiving the most up-to-date information on any changes to travel advice from the UK Foreign Office as well as from our travel partners with the benefit of their in-destination contacts.
We are taking the situation very seriously and are here to support all our clients in helping you to make the best possible decisions for your travel plans. Everyone’s situation and circumstances are different so we always make recommendations on a case by case basis but we have outlined our general guidelines as to how we are managing the Covid-19 situation below.
Travel companies will continue to operate trips to these countries wherever possible. If you have already booked your holiday and the FCO allows for travel to your destination but you have concerns about going, please do get in touch with us ASAP to discuss these concerns and seek reassurance. Everyone in the travel industry is striving to work together on your behalf during this uncertain period and we are already seeing companies increasing the flexibility of their cancellation policies in response.
Alternative options that may be possible include:
1.Postponing your trip to a later date or even next year. In this situation, depending on the cost of the new arrangements, you may be required to pay additional costs or be due a refund, which we can talk to you about.
2.Changing the destination of travel. Again, depending on the cost of the new arrangements, you may be required to pay additional costs or be due a refund of the difference, which we can set-out for you.
3.Cancelling your holiday.
If you decide to completely cancel your trip instead, this will be in accordance with the booking terms and conditions. Please be aware cancellation charges are likely to apply. If this is still your preferred option, we would suggest you contact your insurance company without delay to see whether you are able to recover any of these costs.
If the FCO advice changes to ‘advise against all travel’ or ‘against all but essential travel’ to a destination you have already booked, we will be in contact immediately to discuss how this will impact your travel plans and evaluate your different options with you.
1.If you are travelling to that country, but not for a few weeks or more we will keep you fully informed of the developments and ensure you are aware of key dates which may be relevant to decisions about your trip.
2.If your travel dates are imminent and you have booked a package holiday with us you are protected by the Package Travel Regulations. This means that, where we are able to, we can offer you alternative holidays. If we cannot source an acceptable alternative, you will be entitled to a full refund of the monies you have paid to us.
Likewise, if your holiday is cancelled by the operator due to Covid-19, you are entitled to a full refund of your holiday price. However, you will not be eligible to make an additional compensation claim as the cancellation is due to unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances.
If you wish to check the level of financial protection available for your booking with us, please do get in touch.
> If you are currently staying in that country you will be repatriated as soon as operationally possible or offered the opportunity to move to another country if you would prefer. We will act as your first point of contact to keep you fully informed of the necessary arrangements.
If you are due to travel in the near future and have recently been to any of the countries which the FCO has restricted travel to, we advise that you check the entry requirements for the destination you are visiting to check if there are any specific restrictions in place.
Also, clients should be aware that health screening procedures have been put in place on arrival in many countries. The FCO advises that if you are travelling, you should comply with these measures.
We always advise travelling with an appropriate insurance policy in place for your peace of mind. This is particularly relevant in the light of Covid-19. We will keep a check on the FCO advice right up to your date of travel to ensure there have been no last minute changes. Be aware that changes might invalidate your insurance cover so it is important to know the wording of your policy.
It is recommended to consider taking out your travel insurance policy as soon as possible after confirming your booking to provide cancellation cover if you are unable to travel (check policy wording). Travel insurance may also allow you to claim for any additional costs not covered by the Package Travel Regulations (e.g. disruption to travel cover). Not all policies are the same so you must check the wording carefully to ensure you are getting the cover you expect . Always check details with your travel insurance provider if you are unsure.
Useful Links for Travel Insurance Information https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/02/coronavirus-travel-help-and-your-rights/
Local health authorities may decide to impose restrictions on hotel guests while they conduct investigations or carry out tests. These are preventative measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus and customers should comply with instructions given by the health authorities. Whilst stories about hotels and cruise ships being quarantined have hit the headlines it is important to remember that these instances are very much the exception.
In the event of finding yourself in this situation, you will benefit from the support provided by booking through a reputable travel agent. We will act as your point of contact and liaise with the travel providers on your behalf to make any necessary changes to your schedule in line with the specifics of the situation. If you are travelling on a cruise make sure you have a specialist Cruise cover policy and look for travel insurance policies with Disruption to Travel cover. Please do get in touch if you have questions about how your trip might be affected in these circumstances.
As we are all aware, going abroad on holiday always involves a certain level of risk but understandably Covid-19 is currently giving travellers extra cause for concern. Past experience tells us this storm will pass but whilst the situation is still evolving you may well be feeling uncertain about making future travel plans.
The good news is the travel industry is very experienced at adapting and operating during these types of significant world events. The safety of travellers is the priority for travel companies, and our decisions will follow British Government advice as is always the case.
We pride ourselves on our excellent relationships with our specialist travel partners. They have their ear to the ground at all times ensuring we, as your travel agent, have an enormous wealth of up to the minute knowledge from countless sources to help inform our advice and suggestions for our clients. We are here to listen, understand and alleviate your concerns so do come and talk to us about your requirements. We would be delighted to help you plan a wonderful holiday to look forward to, always with the added reassurance of full financial protection. The silver lining might be that this is the excuse you’ve needed to try something completely different for your next trip!
Whatever your thoughts, come and share them with us and we will seek to find you your perfect escape.
Foreign Office advice
NHS Health Advice
Cruise Lines International Advice
Travel Insurance Advice
World Health Organisation Information