On 17 March the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advised against all non-essential overseas travel for British nationals, initially for a 30-day period.
On 23 March the FCO advised all British travellers to return to the UK. Since then the UK Government has talked of a 14 day quarrantine for anyone returning to the UK, other than from a small number of countries - the dates for this to start have not yet been confirmed.
General travel advice for travellers
The FCO currently advises against all non-essential overseas travel for British nationals. British people who decide that they still need to travel abroad should be fully aware of the increased risks of doing so. That includes the risk that they may not be able to get home, if travel restrictions are put in place.
For the latest updates please visit the Government’s dedicated Coronavirus travel advice page.
For full information relating to the Coronavirus outbreak please visit the Government website, Public Health England and the TravelHealthPro website.
Advice to customers seeking refunds and with forward bookings
On 17 March the Government advised against all non-essential travel overseas, initially for a period of 30 days, which has effectively brought travel overseas to a complete standstill and led to hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers not being able to take their holiday.
The European Commission has already relaxed its position on travel Regulations, and as a result many other EU countries including France, Italy, Belgium, Spain, Germany, The Netherlands and Denmark have taken action to amend their laws and/or provide additional guidance as a result of the crisis. These new measures will help protect customer rights and provide clear guidance, while ensuring travel companies have a chance of surviving beyond the current crisis.
We would recommend the following steps:
1. If your trip has been cancelled because of the change in FCO advice, GTAT will give you options.
2. If possible, amend your holiday or travel arrangements to another date, don’t cancel – this will mean you have a holiday to look forward to in the future.
3. If you are not able to amend your holiday to another date, GTAT will offer you a Refund Credit Note. If this is not suiatble we will offer a refund, subject to our Terms & Conditions.
4. If you have a travel booking for later in the year, please be patient. The situation is changing rapidly. You may incur cancellation charges or lose your deposit if you make a hasty decision.
Nobody knows for sure how long the current coronavirus pandemic will last, but we know that we will come out of the other side and we need to ensure that when we do, holidaymakers are still able to book and take their holidays and that there is a healthy and competitive travel industry to support them.
Q: What do I do if I have a holiday booked to depart after June no-travel period?
A: If you have a travel booking for later in the year, please be patient. The situation is changing rapidly, and travel restrictions may change.
If it turns out that FCO advice against travel affects your holiday, GTAT will contact you to discuss the options, at that time.
If there is no Government advice against travel to your destination, you’re free to make the choice not to go, but there's no obligation on GTAT to give you a refund. Normal cancellation charges will apply.
It is highly unlikely that you will be able to claim any cancellation charge on your insurance as there isn’t normally cover for disinclination to travel but you can check the terms of your policy.
The safety of travellers is a priority for travel companies, and their decisions will follow British Government advice.
If you cancel now, or don’t pay your balance when it is due, normal terms and conditions will apply and you will lose your deposit or have to pay cancellation charges.
Travellers are advised to read the FCO travel advice for the country they are travelling to, which includes a link through to the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) TravelHealthPro website that provides specific travel health advice for countries. The Foreign Office also has a specific page with more information on coronavirus.
Q: What are my options for postponing a trip?
A: As a result of the extraordinary situation and customer concerns over coronavirus, many travel companies and airlines are doing all they can to offer more flexible booking policies at this time, such as giving customers the option to change their travel date should they wish to postpone their holiday. In certain circumstances this may not be possible. Please speak to GTAT to discuss your options.
Q: If I cannot follow my initial travel plans due to the coronavirus outbreak, am I entitled to compensation?
A: You won’t be entitled to any compensation, as the reason for the holiday not continuing is outside the control of the tour operator.