Never have I ever known such a global, tragic time that we now find ourselves in.
The coronavirus pandemic is like nothing else that many of us have ever experienced in our lifetimes and it is something that even with the most meticulous foremost planning, by businesses across the world, could this dire and anxious period have been conceived.
With this in mind, tour operators, cruise lines and airlines have all been negotiating their way through each day and week as governments, including the UK, change and update their travel entry requirements and restrictions and now, we find ourselves in a position of being in an almost global travel lockdown.
The result has lead to the cancellation and amendment policies of each airline, tour operator and cruise company being updated, often with as much regularity as the countries that they travel to. This has understandably lead to much angst for the travelling public as a whole and, I suspect that further changes, and possibly confusion, will continue for some time, especially as international borders and restrictions begin to gradually and steadily re-open in the months ahead.
Businesses are desperately trying to maintain cash flow and are making decisions that are not always in line with their regular booking terms and conditions as they strive to keep their companies afloat in this period of uncertainty.
Lomani has found itself between a rock and a hard place – clients and customer service being my foremost priority and yet, like most other travel agents, clients payments have now been passed on to the tour operators etc and therefore I am not in a position to determine refunds or amendment policies. A client’s contract lies with the tour operators and cruise companies directly when booking with a travel agent as many act as an only as an agent on behalf of the operator concerned.
We now find ourselves in a situation where some governments around the world are supporting their national airlines with cash injections or loans being given and some of them are therefore beginning to be a little more flexible with passenger refunds, rather than travel vouchers being offered for re-booking at a future date. Others, however, continue to apply a travel voucher scheme only for flights no longer operating during this lockdown.
ABTA and major travel consortia are lobbying the UK government to relax the current rules of the Package Travel Directive, which would allow agents and tour operators to delay refunding clients in order to help their businesses during these extraordinary times. The EU have already agreed to this for EU countries but the UK, who have adopted the same regulations even though no longer EU members, are still yet to make a decision on this.
MDOur Foreign Office have now advised against all but essential overseas travel for an indefinite period so holidays are likely to be affected for quite a few weeks, or possibly months, to come.
If your holiday is affected by current flight or cruise cancellations, or indeed international travel restrictions, then please consider re-booking your holiday for a future date. The travel industry is suffering hugely at the moment, not just in the UK but throughout the world. From hotels, to airlines, cruise companies, theme parks and excursion operators, they are all in unprecedented and uncertain times so by re-booking your visit for later this year or perhaps in to 2021, you are doing your bit to help keep these businesses going and are offering them a more certain future. My own family holiday has already been re-booked for Easter 2021!
Lomani finds itself in a strong position for when travel starts to resume and we will all be glad of a holiday once we have had chance to catch up properly with our friends and family and give them a much needed hug.
Keep well & stay safe!
Lomani Luxury Travel MD
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