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Coronavirus update - Monday 10 May 2021
As outlined below the government has now released which countries will be on the green list. None of our countries of operation appear on it currently; all are amber. The list will be updated every 3 weeks from 17 May, so 7 June and 28 June are the next revisions. To comply with our (and your) insurance requirements we need to know whether travel is advised against by the FCO and there is, as yet, no indication of whether a green or amber classification has any bearing on this. We expect there to be changes to the FCO advice on 17 May at which point we will be able to see whether leisure travel is permitted to amber countries (we assume it will be allowed to green countries as this is the whole premise of opening international travel again - but we wait and see).
Coronavirus update - Monday 12 April 2021
In common with most tour operators, we are carefully monitoring the situation in the UK and Europe regarding the Coronavirus outbreak. We are busy planning for 2021. To meet demand, we have also added some UK tours for those wishing for a cycling holiday closer to home. Whilst not preparing for the forthcoming season we have spent much of the last year actively involved in the fight against the virus, testing suspected cases (right).
The Travel Taskforce reported on Friday and will be instigating a traffic light system:
'Green' means you can travel without quarantine but you will need a PCR test before you go and after you return.
'Amber' means the same tests, plus home quarantine for 10 days, or 5 days if you test on day 5 and get a negative.
'Red' means a mandatory 10 day enforced quarantine in a government appointed hotel, at your cost - we won't even go there!
Except for our UK tours, all of the countries we visit are currently predicted to be 'amber'. However, these are not official designations, as, helpfully, we have to wait until 17 May until countries are officially allocated a colour. So we have more waiting during which we continue to plan for the best but prepare for the worst. It is already clear, however, that some of our trips cannot take place and if this is the case we will be in touch shortly. If you are booked on a European cycling tour after mid June we are hopeful that this will proceed, so keep everything crossed except your handlebars.
The other consideration is the type of test required. Current rules are for you to pay for a PCR test at anything around £120 - £150 per person, per test. This is obviously another burden and cost, and our Trade body and the travel industry is lobbying hard for the cheaper Lateral Flow Test to be acceptable (sadly this still involves putting a giant cotton bud down your throat and up a nostril). Vaccination passports in one shape or form will ease the regulatory burden somewhat and again, our industry is pushing for simplification and clarity - all we would say at this stage is to get vaccinated if you are offered a jab, and are medically suitable for one.
It is important to point out that no single tour departure can be taken in isolation as we have logistics like vehicle and staff movements to consider so need to be able to be confident that we can do this without enforced periods of quarantine; and of course, we want your holiday experience to be a good one without too many restrictions.
The below information explains how we intend to manage the Coronavirus situation. Our policy is simple: our customers come first.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issues guidance for travellers and this official advice is where we will take our lead from. In this day and age there are multiple sources of good information, bad information and false news, not to mention the unreliability of social media ‘news’, so we must take our lead from the official government source only. For your protection we obvioulsy have Public Liability and Product Liability insurance in place and this is governed by the FCO advice; we cannot and will not operate uninsured, for your protection and ours, and thus we follow FCO guidance.
Our usual payment policy is for payment of the holiday cost 6 weeks prior to travel. For obvious reasons the holiday industry needs to request payment in advance – more so when acting as a tour operator as we do, and not just as an intermediary as travel agents do. We continue to feel that 6 weeks is a sensible payment window (a lot of companies have 8 or even 12 weeks as their payment date). If, at the time the balance is normally due, the Coronavirus situation makes it unclear whether a tour will be going ahead or not, we will not be issuing customers with balance invoices as we do not feel it is fair to hoist upon them a bad choice between feeling they don't want to come and thus cancelling (and thereby forfeiting their deposits), or paying their balance when it is unclear whether their holiday will go ahead. We also wish to give our hotel partners the very best chance of recovering from this devastating situation by not asking for refunds from them until we really have to. In the meantime, the fact that the balance has not been paid in line with the timescale on our T&Cs will in no way effect the vailidity of your booking.
We fully appreciate however that some of our customers may be hesitant or nervous about travelling and we will therefore be carrying forward our coronavirus guarantee into 2021, meaning you can book with confidence. In the event that FCO advice, or government restrictions, prevents us being able to run a tour in 2021 you can defer your holiday to another in 2021 or 2022. It does not need to be the same tour as you were originally booked on and any difference in price will be paid / refunded as appropriate; all deferments will see the 2021 price honoured meaning you are protected from any 2022 price rises which may occur (applies to exising booked customers only; new bookings will pay the price prevailing at time of booking). There will be no alteration fees in this instance.
Dates for 2021 are listed on our website - as always please just enquire if we can offer any other dates for particular tours. We very much hope that you will seriously consider deferring rather than cancelling for the reasons above; many of the areas we visit rely heavily on tourism and we want our small, family run hotels to still be around when we are able to go back. The ability to defer to later in 2021 or to 2022 at the price prevalent when you booked is our 'Coronavirus Guarantee' and applies to all bookings currenly affected, or affected in future. You may have read about 'refund vouchers' but we will not fob you off with these. Once you have opted for deferment our normal Terms and Conditions apply and the new holiday is essentially treated as any new booking would be.
This is our simple Coronavirus Guarantee: If your holiday is cancelled by us you can have an immediate refund or defer to another holiday in either 2021 or 2022 at the same price. No ifs. No buts.
We advise checking your travel insurance (as required by our terms and conditions) to verify that you are covered for what is now a ‘notifiable disease’ in case we are prevented from travelling to areas where advice from the FCO is not to travel. Some policies bought before the outbreak will automatically cover you; those bought afterwards will probably / possibly not. You should also read the smallprint carefully if you have any underlying conditions of which you are aware.
Whilst some restrictions may start to be eased we must of course wait and see if those relaxations will affect our tours; however there are also restrictions such as quarantine potententially being imposed on return to the UK, which as well as affecting our customers will also affect our operational ability significantly. In the event that the FCO is advising against travel and your departure is imminent (within a fortnight) then we will be in touch to discuss your options.
For your prtection during your holiday, we have developed guidelines for minimising Covid 19 risk and these will be explained on your holiday's initial briefing; there is nothing overly onerous, just common sense, in addition to which we will of course be adhering to local laws and regulations. In addition all of our accommodation providers have their own procedures which we ask you to follow. As outdoor enthusists this will affect us less than some but we are keen to stress that we will be seeking to mitigate as much risk as possible.
Please note that changing your mind and no longer wishing to travel, if the FCO has not issued advice against travelling, is dealt with in the same way as a normal cancellation and normal cancellation fees will apply (see our Terms & Conditions).
Please do get in touch if you have any questions on [email protected]