Little has chnaged in the last 48 hours as the industry as a whole waits for government assistance and guidance.
The government is working on a “tailored support package” for the travel sector, South West Surrey MP Jeremy Hunt
Hunt said he was aware of talks between Abta and the government about support for the sector, and said so far as he was aware, “those talks are still ongoing”.
“My team and I have been in direct contact with the transport secretary [Grant Shapps], who is leading on this issue, in the past few days,” said Hunt. “He reassured me he is keen to find a solution as quickly as possible.
“However, due to the complexity of the sector, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t seem to be appropriate and a more tailored support package is required.
“I will continue to push the transport secretary and his team to announce his measures as soon as possible.”
We completely understand the right to a refund and do believe that will still stand as law but the process may take months as operators wait for money to come back into the system. Airlines are largely refusing refunds, hotels and ground handlers are also holding on monies. Due to the sheer scale of the situation, there is not enough cash flow to refund all holidays, certainly within a 14 day period.
As a travel agent, we do not hold onto our client’s money and it paid to the operator of the holiday as soon as paid to us. The holiday contract is with that operator and we cannot refund you until we receive that money back ourselves. We are not trying to shy away from any responsibility and are working around the clock at a loss to do our absolute utmost for our clients. Many of the operators are working with skeleton staff and the average wait time for a call is in excess of 2 hours. I please urge you to remain patient and if you do have travel insurance, do contact them in the first instance to see if you are covered for the cancellation of your holiday. We can assist with any supporting documentation that may be required.
If you are in a position to rebook new dates, can I please ask you to consider that as the new holiday will then be financially protected should the operator go out of business but also will ultimately help the travel industry survive.
With further stimulus packages announced yesterday for other sectors such as charities, I do believe we will have clarity soon and we will let you know as soon as we hear more.
Curent ABTA guidance is availabe here – https://www.abta.com/news/coronavirus-outbreak