Consumers nervous about travelling as UK outbound holidays restart have no general right to a refund if they cancel, despite the health measures or restrictions there may be at their destination.
That is the view of Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer, who said: “There is no general cancellation [right] for people disinclined to travel.”
Speaking on a Travel Weekly Roadmap to Recovery webcast, Tanzer said: “Nobody can force a customer if they don’t want to go.
“[But] if the holiday can be delivered, the flights are going, the hotel is there and the holiday experience is as advertised then that doesn’t give rise to a cancellation right.
“There may be instances where, if you are going for an experience at a theme park and the theme park is shut, you could say ‘I can’t deliver that holiday therefore there is a right to cancellation’. But it’s on a case-by-case basis.”
He said: “Individuals will have to inform themselves properly, use their travel organisers, and make informed decisions about whether they want to travel.”
Many of the destinations on the UK government’s ‘Covid travel list’ of countries to which UK travellers can now fly without quarantine restrictions on their return impose restrictions of their own.
But Tanzer said these would not necessarily entitle a consumer to a refund if they cancel a trip.
He insisted: “It’s very difficult to say a quarantine restriction gives you a right to cancel. It depends whether people know [of the restrictions] at the time they booked. You can’t generalise.
“It’s a changing picture so it’s difficult to have a hard and fast rule.”
He noted: “There will be instances when the entire purpose of a holiday was around one feature. If that feature is shut then you can say, ‘Well, that was the holiday’.
“But if you travel to a particular country and certain facilities aren’t available, there are other things one can do.
“Customers will [need to] talk to their travel providers and have that discussion as to whether it is a meaningful change.”
Tanzer suggested the risk of travellers falling sick with Covid-19 while away would be handled no differently to health problems arising before the pandemic.
He said: “I don’t know that is different in nature to the situation we’ve always had where people may fall ill when overseas.
“The advice is to have travel insurance, and there are travel insurance policies coming back into the market now that will cover people falling sick overseas even from Covid-related illnesses.”
He added: “There are reciprocal healthcare arrangements in place [in the EU] and we hope to replace those going forward.”
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