To say that it is a very unsettling time at the moment with coronavirus getting a foothold in now over 120 countries across the globe, this might be an understatement!
Italy has now gone in to lockdown, China has seen many of it’s cities in a home quarantine situation for many weeks and we had the Diamond Princess quarantined in Japan for a couple of weeks last month too. The UK is now seeing a wider spread of the virus and this may present further challenges to the travelling public and the travel industry as a whole!
Here at Lomani, we are taking a proactive approach with our clients, prioritising those that are travelling within a three to four week period.
We receive regular updates via email from our Foreign Office in addition to also monitoring the World Health Organisation official figures for the virus throughout each day, paying particular attention to countries to which our clients are due to visit.
Of course, the situation with coronavirus is changing and evolving constantly so to a degree, we, in the travel industry, are having to adopt a position of ‘wait and see’ and acting quickly and effectively as the situation changes. It is still too early to speculate on what may or may not happen over the course of the coming weeks and months.
As a travel agent, who acts on behalf of a tour operator, our clients are subject to a tour operators booking terms and conditions with regard to changing or cancelling a holiday. It is mostly the case that if our Foreign Office officially advises against all but essential travel to a destination, then the tour operator will have to offer an alternative holiday or cancel with a full refund. If the advice remains in place that a destination is still fine to travel to but with caution, then should you wish to cancel or change your holiday, charges as per the tour operators booking terms and conditions will apply and often, travel insurance will not cover a claim for any monies lost as they would argue that it is ‘disinclination to travel’.
It is vitally important that if you continue with your holiday as planned, you have a fully comprehensive, robust travel insurance in place that covers:-
- The full cost of your holiday should you find yourself in a situation where you are having to cancel on medical grounds (IE you are taken ill prior to departure)
- Extensive medical & hospitalisation cover for the destination(s) that you are travelling to in case you take ill whilst abroad – cruise cover is now normally an add-on for an additional premium for most policies.
- Cover for a person to stay with you if you are not well enough to travel home on the original date and you have to stay longer in the country that you have travelled to.
It is also extremely important that your policy covers repatriation and curtailment in addition to other areas such as personal effects, travel delay etc.
Earlier this week the Government’s official message was that holidaymakers can go ahead and travel, but ensuring prior to departure that they are going to a country that has suitable healthcare provision.
The chief scientific advisor to the Government, Sir Patrick Vallance, said: “Once the epidemic is everywhere, then actually restricting travel makes no difference at all.”
Prevention is definitely better than cure, therefore whether remaining in the UK or heading off for a holiday abroad, then following the official guidance on how best to reduce your chances of infection is the greatest possible advice to adhere to.
Anti bacterial hand santisers are less effective against this virus than those that are alcohol based. We would recommend that you purchase sufficient supplies of a sanitiser to have readily available at all times should you not be near to a hand washing facility.
This virus has now ‘peaked’ in China and more positive news is being reported from there. This gives us all hope that as with SARs, bird flu etc, these viruses eventually abate over time with the right precautions and a sensible approach being taken.
Our heatfelt sympathy goes to those who have been affected by this dreadful virus and for those who are currently quarantined, we wish you a speedy and full recovery.