Pictured: Hotel Helena Sands, Sunny Beach, Bulgaria.

Balkan Holidays has extended its new flexible payment policy to travel agents, following updated guidance from Abta.

Agents had been concerned last week when the operator relaxed its cancellation terms for direct customers but flight-only and travel agent bookings had been exempt.

Balkan explained that it had wanted to offer the new policy “across the board” but it would not be financially protected by Abta.

An updated message has now been posted on the Balkan Holidays website and a statement issued about the change.

“Further to updated advice from Abta, confirmed today, 30th March 2020, Balkan Holidays is delighted to offer four-week balance payment terms to travel agents for May and June 2020 departures,” said the statement.

A spokesperson from Balkan Holidays said: “It was always our intention to offer excellent flexible payment terms to travel agents, and we welcome the update from Abta regarding pipeline protection, which makes this possible.

“We are 100% committed to the trade at all times, and our popular ‘on the road’ and support teams work extremely hard to train, help and advise agents.”

Furthermore, for existing and new bookings made by April 30, agents will have up to 14 days before travel to postpone bookings free of charge. This is for holidays in May and June 2020.

The spokesperson added: “We trust that these measures reassure all agents of our commitment to them at this critical time. We wish to pull together and act as one, in the hope of future success and prosperity. We are thinking of all our trade colleagues at this time.”

All staff from the operator are now working from home and ‘opening hours’ remain the same. A dedicated trade Facebook page is monitored round the clock.

A new online training programme will be launched next month, ahead of schedule, to enable agents to update their knowledge and skills, and news of agent incentives and fam trips will be announced as soon as possible.

The spokesperson continued: “We thank agents for their feedback and support in the last few days and look forward to seeing everyone face-to-face very soon.

“If there is anything we can assist with in any way, please contact your regional sales manager or email sales@balkanholidays.co.uk.”

The independent tour operator specialises in Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia and Romania.