Our approach to government travel advisories
Our customers put their trust in us to provide a safe and enjoyable holiday, so it is only fair to clearly and honestly explain how we approach situations when there might be an increased danger for travel to our destination countries.
Which authorities do we take advice from?
It goes without saying that we will always put the safety of our customers first. In order to do this, we put in place policies that follow the advice of respected authorities. Like many other travel companies, we use government travel advice for this purpose.
We have three sales offices around the world. Our HQ is Bristol in the UK; our US branch is in Broomfield, Colorado; and you'll find our Australian operation in Toowong, a suburb of Brisbane. When you make a booking, it will be handled by one of these offices.
For customers who are nationals of the UK, US or Australia, we follow the respective country advice. For customers from the rest of the world, we follow the advice of the UK government Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). We feel that this is clearest to our customers and provides for a consistent, fair and measured policy. The relevant websites are as follows:
UK FCO Travel advice
Australian Government Smart Traveller
US State Department International Travel Advice
We recommend that you always refer to your local government advice before travelling anywhere. As well as covering emergency situations, these websites also have useful general tips about how to stay safe when travelling internationally.
What happens if a travel advisory is put in place?
If a travel advisory is put in place by any of the above authorities that states that people should "reconsider travel" or says "do not travel", then we will relax our normal terms and conditions.
This is equivalent to a level 3 or higher advisory for the US or Australia, or an "advise against all but essential travel" advisory in the UK.
In this case, we will offer free of charge cancellations within a certain rolling window - departures in the next 14 days, for example.
We make a judgement on the length of this rolling period based on the situation. Some advisories are for situations which could change at any time; Others are for ongoing situations where the advice is unlikely to move quickly.
For bookings departing further out, we will offer free of charge re-bookings or re-routings, or adjusted cancellation terms. This will also be within a defined window (usually a few months out).
Of course, although we set our policies based on government advice, it is a personal decision whether to travel or not. And it is always possible that the government advice is not consistent. For example, if the US government is advising against travel whereas the UK is not. In these circumstances, for UK, US and Australian nationals we would follow the advice of your country's government, whilst for customers from the rest of the world, we would follow the advice of the UK Government Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
Government advice and travel insurance
One important area to look at is insurance. It is part of our terms and conditions that all our customers are covered by insurance for medical incidents and repatriation. It is worth bearing in mind that if your government is advising against all but essential travel or has a "reconsider travel" level 3 advisory active, this may invalidate some or all of your insurance. In these circumstances we would not be able to operate the trip for you.
There is a small but inherent danger in any international travel and there are numerous factors that might impact on how people feel about the risks of travelling at any given time. We respect that our customers will make up their own minds and take their own advice on this.
But by having this clear and consistent process in place we provide certainty for our suppliers, many of whom are small local suppliers or individuals, and we protect the interests of all our customers by ensuring that as a business we are acting prudently and responsibly.
Our Health & Safety processes
As a responsible travel company, we take Health and Safety seriously and we have an experienced team who's priority it is to look after our customers.
We have an audit process for our suppliers and hotels and for any higher risk activities that we offer.
In the event of a crisis we have a well-practiced crisis process that we put in place.
We work closely with our trade associations around the world to ensure that we are following latest best practice.