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It has been another difficult few weeks for the travel industry with yet another airline failure and media induced hysteria surrounding the latest flu virus to hit the headlines and panic buying toilet paper in supermarkets … (what is that all about!)
As many of our existing clients have been asking where they stand regarding their own holidays I thought it would be good to explain the current situation and answer some of your questions below …
Despite the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19), we are still taking bookings and enquiries and whilst the FCO advice remains unchanged, we see no reason not to travel.
Our clients’ safety is our first priority, and we will continue to monitor the situation, so if anything changes we will be directly in touch with those affected.
If the FCO advises against all but essential travel to a destination and holiday plans have to change for clients booked with us, then we work with the relevant tour operator to either (depending on if clients are already travelling or yet to depart) move the travel dates / re-book you to an alternative destination / refund / get you home (if already in resort).
Here is the link to the FCO travel advisory pages of their website, please check the destination you want to travel to.
Travel With Jules is a member of The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) and ABTA’s latest guidance for travellers can be found here.
The same precautions which you should take in the UK at any time. Our destination agents will provide hand sanitiser in vehicles and can supply masks if requested in Asia, (though we are unconvinced that there is a need for masks).
The precautions suggested by the Travel Health Network are very sensible and would be appropriate at any time.
On the subject of masks …! If you are healthy, they are widely regarded as a waste of time when travelling, unless you are adhering to IUCN protocol for gorilla tracking. Let us stay informed and pragmatic!
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) is not advising against all but essential travel to any of the destinations we sell and therefore our normal tour operator terms and conditions for cancellations apply. The costs to cancel will increase closer to departure but please check with us about your specific booking.
Despite what some ‘travel experts’ on TV and in mass market media publications may be saying, the only way to make sure you are fully protected in the time of any holiday related situations is to BOOK A FULLY PROTECTED PACKAGE WITH A BONDED TRAVEL AGENT!
Even if you have booked a ‘package’ (flights & accommodation together) online directly with a tour operator, you may still have problems trying to get information from them … spending many hours on hold trying to speak to a real person and the big commercial package tour operators don’t offer the personal service you get when you book with an AITO specialist independent travel agent.
Here at Travel With Jules we truly understand our clients requirements and concerns and we will always make sure we have you covered in a crisis.
We have many clients currently having a fabulous time in Asian destinations including Sri Lanka, Thailand, Japan, India and Vietnam. We also have clients in Spain, Lapland, The Gambia, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Nicaragua! There have been no virus-related changes to these and other forthcoming holidays, as there is no need to do so.
The only changes we have made were because airlines have cancelled flights, due to operational & schedule changes. In this case, we have moved the date of the affected flights, at no extra cost to the clients involved and where possible refunded our clients for any lost accommodation nights.
Japan is one of our most popular holiday destinations and remains one of the cleanest and efficient countries in the world! Here is the web page from our AITO partners Inside Japan with the latest information about travel to Japan.
Please note - regarding flight cancellations from British Airways, EasyJet and Ryanair recently ... this was due to lack of demand to certain destinations and operational reasons, NOT due to the Coronavirus.
Based on what we know about the spread of the disease, along with the contagiousness and low mortality rates of this virus, both we and our colleagues working for our specialist tour operator partners would be happy to travel to any of the destinations that we sell.
Let's keep things in perspective ...
Although the FCO has not advised against travel to any of our holiday destinations because of COVID-19, we have dealt with many other travel related crises in the past where we have been directly affected.
We’ve seen it all before: Zika, Ebola, SARS … add that to Ash Clouds, Earthquakes, major tour operator and airline failures …From accidents & natural disasters to protests and terrorist attacks… we have fought back from them all!
Recently this involved the attacks in Sri Lanka in April 2019, where the FCO advised against travel for around 6 weeks. During this period we worked with clients to defer, re-arrange or cancel their future bookings depending on their preferences. You might like to read this blog post from Sam Clark, MD of our partners Experience Travel Group (who specialise in this area of Asia) about how else they reacted to the situation, along with his views on the uncertainty of travel in general.
There is no reason to delay. The situation is constantly changing and nobody can predict the state of the situation anywhere in the world, in the future. This applies to all kinds of events such as accidents & natural disasters, to protests and terrorist attacks.
We are continuing to take new bookings as normal. If, by the time you travel, the FCO advice changes for your destination then you will be financially covered and if it does not change then you can look forward to your holiday as planned.
There are benefits to booking holidays now such as a greater choice of accommodation and great deals with hotels and airlines are on offer.
We are working with our AITO operator partners to keep the world travelling and have some amazing discounted special offers and low deposits to help you book a lovely holiday, so you have something to look forward to!
Clients who have recently returned from their travels, and our destination specialist AITO partners, have said that the biggest thing they have noticed recently is how much quieter the otherwise usually busy areas are and how welcoming the local are!
One of our Italian specialists reported by video call from Venice the other day, saying he was basking in beautiful morning sun and enjoying the tranquil environment (it’s normally packed!).
As the Chinese make up the biggest proportion of tourists at this time of year and they are not travelling, many of the most popular tourist hot spots, such as Hoi An, Angkor Wat and Phuket in Asia and even many usually busy places in Europe, are much quieter than usual.
Many people in busy towns throughout Asia are also wearing face masks, although this is common practice anyway, to ward off the sun and air pollution in the big cities.
The reason I started Travel With Jules was born from my own passion for travel (originally in Africa and working with wildlife conservation) … in our office we love to travel. We love to meet people from other cultures and discover new ways of looking at life… We love to show others the life changing travel experiences that the world has to offer.
So if you’d like to travel the world and plan your next adventure and discuss the risks and the rewards with a knowledgeable travel professional, then get in touch!
Travel With Jules is a national award-winning Independent Travel Agency offering travel concierge services based in Suffolk, UK.
Travel With Jules offers bespoke global travel advice and tailor made itineraries for individuals, couples, groups, families and businesses. Whether it’s everyday travel (such as flights-only) or luxury holidays of a lifetime, we include no-fee research and check the details and paperwork for you, removing any stress. Keep an eye on the offers and late availability pages too, for some surprisingly affordable deals, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to receive our insider travel tips and updates.