Travel businesses face a host of new risks from the Covid-19 pandemic and assessing those risks “will be key”, according to Alan Pattison, managing director of Travel Risk Professionals.

Pattison told a Travlaw industry webinar: “We’re in a new landscape. In addition to the traditional risk exposures you need to factor in national lockdowns, border restrictions, local quarantines, social distancing, supply shortages, staff welfare and infrastructure impacts.

“There are new risks [and] risk assessments will be key.”

He noted: “At the start of this there were very few insurance policies available to tour operators that would really be of assistance. Business interruption cover typically responds only to interruption at an office premises.”

Pattison advised “avoiding a narrow geographical spread of destinations” and said: “Have a plan B. If a country goes into national or localised lockdown, can you move swiftly?”

He highlighted the “reduced availability of beds, of local attractions, of hotel facilities” and asked: “Will that restrict enjoyment?”

Companies would “need to pay specific attention to local Covid regulations and provision of PPE [personal protective equipment] for staff overseas”, he said, adding: “Social distancing is here to stay.

“Hotels will not be at 100% capacity for some time – transport providers [will be] the same. There is a general fear of returning to public transport and social environments.

“Deep cleaning and sanitisation could mean later check-in times and need to be factored into transport arrangements.”

He added: “We can’t ignore the impact on staff and mental wellbeing.”

Pattison also emphasised the need for “robust supplier contracts”, saying: “We’ve seen so many travel companies forced to pay refunds to consumers when they have not received money back from suppliers.”