As we all know due to the coronavirus, holidays have been a real challenge this year; they are supposed to be a fun and exciting break from normal life!
Holidays are normally a highlight and something to look forward to; we are keen to get away and explore new destinations. However, countries you can travel to without restrictions or quarantine requirements need to be carefully sought out.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) regularly updates its website regarding the situation and available ‘travel corridors’. The authority advises against any non-essential travel to any country not on the ‘safe’ list and anyone who does travel to those destinations often need to quarantine upon return. International co-operation of information sharing is going to be crucial for real change to be seen in the state of travel in 2021. Governments need to have a coherent contingency plan which would eliminate the uncertainty created by changes to restrictions happening weekly. This uncertainty has made would be travellers nervous to book.
So, while many countries are off the table now, might they open up in 2021 and what’s the risk of booking a holiday for next year? Well, we recommend you book it, but ensure your booking is flexible and your payment is protected. With so many fabulous offers available now, you might be able to bag a bargain too!
Remember your holiday is protected if you have booked a package holiday under the ATOL scheme. If you are booking a flight many airlines are offering a ‘book with a confidence’ policy that will allow you to change the dates of your travel should you need to. Your travel agent will be able to advise you and guide you to use the airlines that are currently offering the most flexible booking terms. Travel operators and destinations are seeking to incentivise customers with an increasing range of flexible rebooking and cancellation guarantees – even for Winter 20/21 ski trips.
TUI, the UK’s biggest tour operator and its ski subsidiary, Crystal, are offering customers ‘Covid Cover’. It allows amendments if a customer is diagnosed with Covid, required to isolate, or cannot travel due to local restrictions. It also covers medical assistance for the virus if contracted on holiday and the cost of extending accommodation if self-isolation is required.
EasyJet Holidays recently launched its ‘Protection Promise’, which is underscored by a Refund Guarantee. In practice, this means that its customers can cancel their holiday fee-free should they change their mind, up to 28 days before departure when the balance is due; the deposit is returned as credit. A full refund will be due if the company cancels a holiday where “there is a known requirement for quarantine or self-isolation at the destination”. The company says that the average time for a refund is now 12 days for cancelled trips.
“‘We’re likely to see continued disruption to holidays into 2021, so these flexible booking policies can really help,” says Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel. “Especially useful are those that offer rebooking, or even better refunds, if test and trace or a local lockdown in the UK means you can’t travel, or the destination you are flying to is removed from the travel corridor list.”
More airport testing or prior-to-arrival tests have already been implemented successfully in thirty countries including France and Germany, and as this network expands it could end the isolation requirements which are currently crippling the industry. With a comprehensive testing programme that transcends borders, we should see a revival of travel and tourism internationally in 2021.