Coronavirus cases in the UK continue to escalate at a worrying rate. There are currently 1,1551 cases confirmed in the UK and sadly 35 deaths. Today British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to the nation about how the UK is combatting coronavirus and issued travel advice.
- EasyJet flights cancellations – grounds large number of flights
In his speech, Johnson has urged Britons to “stop all unnecessary travel.”
This comes after travel trade association ABTA called for urgent support for the industry from Government.
“As a result of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak worldwide, the UK travel industry is facing a crisis of unprecedented scale, which is impacting hundreds of travel businesses and many thousands of their customers,” said ABTA in a statement today.
“ABTA – The Travel Association, is calling for urgent support from the Government to help businesses through the short-term.
“Without this support, the Association believes that perfectly viable and normally successful UK travel businesses employing tens of thousands of people are at risk of going bankrupt.
“Travel businesses are working around the clock to manage arrangements for customers in destination, including repatriation, and have been trying to provide alternative arrangements for those with imminent departures but this is becoming increasingly difficult as the virus spreads.
“Travel agents and tour operators are also facing a huge drop in bookings.
“Because of the unique circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic, ABTA is calling for temporary changes to the UK Package Travel Regulations at European and UK government level, with immediate effect.
“The existing financial protection structures and regulations were not designed to cope with a large-scale collapse of businesses.”
The changes ABTA is asking for are:
– That tour operators should not be responsible for providing refunds if these costs are not covered by the suppliers (e.g. the hotel or airline). Where those suppliers cannot or will not refund, there needs to be an emergency government consumer hardship fund to fulfil refund payments.
– That the 14-day window in the Regulations for refund payments should be removed.
– That refund credits should be allowed as an acceptable alternative to cash refunds, with all protections carried forward as part of the refund credit.
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Mark Tanzer, ABTA’s Chief Executive said: “The evolving coronavirus situation is causing immense damage to UK travel businesses. I am calling for urgent action today by the Government to make money available to travel and tourism companies and to make temporary changes to existing package travel regulation.
“Without this action, we risk healthy travel businesses going bankrupt, thousands of job losses across the country and customers losing money.”
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, added: “Millions of people rely on airlines, travel firms and tour operators and with many companies hit hard by the coronavirus crisis, it is vital that the government considers all options to support the industry and help it through this challenging period.
“If taxpayers’ money is to be used to sustain the travel industry, it is even more important that businesses do the right thing by their customers – particularly by supporting more vulnerable consumers – by demonstrating compassion and flexibility during the difficult weeks ahead.”
Boland previously shared his travel advice to jet-setters, stating: “With mass flight cancellations and dozens of countries introducing restrictions to deal with coronavirus, it looks increasingly unlikely that holidays outside the UK booked in the coming weeks will go ahead – and many people will be worried about losing large sums of money as a result.
“Thanks to increased flexibility being offered by airlines and travel operators during the crisis, passengers are likely to be given the option to rebook for a later date, or claim a refund. It’s important not to jump the gun and cancel your plans too far in advance though.
“You won’t automatically be due rebooking or a refund if you cancel when travel is still weeks away.
“Airlines and travel operators’ customer services are under immense pressure at the moment, so if you’re not due to travel in the coming days, consider waiting to contact them for information about your travel plans.”
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