Well, what a year 2020 has been. It would be fair to say this isn’t quite what we were thinking when we welcomed in the new decade on 1st January. The last few months have been a rollercoaster for everyone and the travel industry has been one of those that was hit the hardest. Friends have lost their jobs and previous juggernauts in the industry have been pushed to their limits. Some will not survive and the industry as a whole has been irrevocably changed.
Let’s put it bluntly. Some of the larger tour operators (no names mentioned) kept hold of client money and refused refunds. These were ATOL-bonded, ABTA agencies who were legally obliged to provide refunds and have not only damaged their reputation but also made travellers question how safe their money is when paying for a holiday . The difference being, that in 95% of cases, Mensos Concierge refunded our clients within days even though we were facing a mountain of unprecedented cancellations. We have worked tirelessly over the past 7 months recovering clients’ money, whilst also working alongside our trusted hotels and suppliers to move existing trips and credits in our clients’ favour. However, in some cases, we sadly weren’t successful. Take Greece, who changed the law in March this year to legally allow hotels and suppliers to edit their Terms & Conditions, making previously refundable trips non-refundable. They have instead offered 18-month credit vouchers. It has been a bitter blow to our industry’s reputation but more importantly a bitter blow to our clients. With flights to Greece being delayed and quarantine rules in question, we took the decision to only offer Greece this year if our clients were fully aware of the financial risks involved.
However, the European Commission have recently opened infringement proceedings on Greece on the grounds that their national rules “infringe EU law on consumers’ and travellers’ rights”, so we do expect to hear more on this in due course (they filed in July and requested a response within 2 months). Fingers crossed that it is ruled that customers should receive the refunds lawfully due to them before the end of the year.
Under the ever-changing rules, the Foreign Office has yet again updated its global advisory against ‘all but essential’ travel, exempting destinations that no longer pose an unaccetably high risk for British travellers. Destinations that are currently open for British citizens include Cyprus, Greece, Denmark, Madeira & the Azores (not including mainland Portugal), Sweden, the Canary Islands and the Maldives. Further afield, we can get you to Antigua, Bermuda and St Lucia without quarantine restrictions. For most of these destinations though, travellers from the UK must arrive with a negative PCR test, taken by a certified or accredited laboratory within 72- 96 hours of arrival. We can help you with private test centres as countries are not accepting tests instructed under the NHS.
This brings the number of destinations with zero travel restrictions for UK holidaymakers down to three: Sweden, Greece and Gibraltar.
Booking to these destinations means that your travel insurance is valid, safe in the knowledge that you will be looked after should anything change before you go or when you’re away. Of course, no travel is risk-free at the moment but we believe that this year has shown how important it is to book trips using an independant travel advisor. We can not only help you navigate these tricky waters and guide you to reputable and trusted hotels with flexible booking conditions but also give honest insights which is needed at this fractuous time.
It seems travel advisors, in fact, have never been more in demand. Using an independent travel consultant means you can expect honesty and transparency. We are there to advise – free of charge – and were there to repay your money in full whilst losing money ourselves in repaid credit card fees. In some cases, these trips were being planned for over a year and then cancelled with no sign of being rebooked. The good news? We have been repaid in your loyalty, kindness and patience. And for that, we thank you.
If you would like to book a trip or discuss a destination in more detail, then please get in touch with your enquiry. There are some amazing places that have opened their doors in line with local government advice and promise a safe (and rather quiet!) stay. Plus, Terms & Conditions have never been more flexible, protecting you should you need to cancel up to 24 hours prior to arrival in some cases.