Our thoughts for the months ahead....
The sudden changes to travel corridors, has certainly dented traveller confidence. Understandably people don’t want to book trips only to find out just before (or after) they depart that they will have to self isolate on their return, or have their holiday cut short.
We in the Travel industry are campaigning for more clarity from HMG so this risk is removed. We are asking for more targeted restrictions and airport testing to reduce self isolation periods if required.
In the meantime, to mitigate this we will continue to offer complete flexibility. Refundable deposits and late balance payments, will help you to make final decisions at the last minute. We’ll become experts in monitoring R rates and cases per 100,000!
Booking holidays has become infinitely more complicated with a multitude of factors that need to be considered. This puts us small, expert operators in a good position, we can dedicate the time, expertise and flexibility to every enquiry and are always at the end of the phone or email to allay any concerns and deal with any issues.
We now have access to very useful Travel Insurance policies which will help mitigate a lot of the risk involved, including cancellation cover if you contract Covid-19 or are asked to isolate before departure, if you are refused boarding at your UK airport due to showing symptoms, curtailment cover, medical cover and repatriation. If borders close or there is advice against non-essential travel then you will be able to re-book for a later date or apply for a refund. Our suppliers are also offering unprecedented flexibility, so most deposits are refundable up until 5 weeks before departure.
I know many people are desperate to get away on a holiday after numerous cancellations and postponements. I must stress it’s now more important than ever to use a Travel Company you can trust, to advise you on the safest places to visit, offer maximum flexibility, to always be hand and to ensure you are fully financially protected.
So where to next
As the nights draw in, you might be looking further afield than Europe. Many longer haul Winter destinations will be gearing up to welcome guests. We hope hotels, resorts and travellers will have learned the protocols needed to prevent further outbreaks, without diminishing on the overall experience.
The less developed, less “resort” based destinations will come to the fore, as people seek out smaller hotels with more space and privacy.
Sri Lanka and other Indian Ocean islands, should be in a good position. Sri Lanka, the Maldives, the Seychelles and Mauritius have all had very low infection rates so are well placed to welcome tourists in the Autumn and Winter. There are no guarantees just yet. Sri Lanka, Mauritius and the Seychelles are on the corridor list so do not require self isolation on returning to the UK, though as of yet have not opened their borders to the UK, we are optimistic all three will be open by the end of October. It’s the reverse for the Maldives, with its borders open, but not yet on the travel corridor list!
The situation in the Caribbean seems to be generally promising, but still evolving, with a couple of countries recently taken off the corridor list. The destinations that are open to UK travelers seem to have good procedures in place, requiring a negative PCR test result taken within 48 hours of departure. There is also talk of limiting stays to one hotel per trip. Arrival numbers are currently quite low, so it remains to be seen how things will pan out should arrivals increase over the autumn.
With the recent setbacks and rising cases throughout Europe nothing can be taken for granted. Until recently, Italy has been coping well since reopening, but has recently crawled into the Amber Zone. Iceland have also been very adept at dealing with the situation and have good protocols in place, so should be a good bet over the Autumn and Winter. This spectacular country, is equally enchanting over the colder months and we have access to some fabulous experiences. For a bit of warmth, Cyprus is looking to be a good option with negative test results required on entry.
Safari Camps and borders are reopening in East and Southern Africa, but there is little indication from our Government as to when FCO restrictions will be lifted. South Africa is beginning to improve again after a spike at the end of July; we hope travel will be possible by the end of the year for some much needed winter sun.
We have no indication as to when Oman airports will reopen for tourists. Dubai is currently open with strict testing on arrival and departure, has limited movement outside of hotels and self-isolation requirements on returning to the UK.
Sadly many borders in South East Asia are closed to most Foreign Nationals, including Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand. However on the plus side Vietnam is on the FCO exemption list so is a promising destination for Winter sun and Cambodia’s borders are open, so long as all visitors take a Covid test on arrival and if the results are negative, agree to self-isolate at their accommodation.