Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Last updated: 03 September 2020




COVID-19 Exceptional Travel Advisory Notice

On 17th March 2020 the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advised against all non-essential international travel, initially for a period of 30 days. This advice was updated on 5th April, referring to an indefinite period and a further update was issued on 5th June, when FCO amended the wording for the Global All But Essential Travel advice restriction from an "indefinite period" to "currently'.

On 4th July 2020 The FCO updated their advice exempting destinations that no longer pose an unacceptably high risk for British travellers.

These exemptions came into effect on 4 July. A list of countries assessed as no longer presenting an unacceptably high risk to British people travelling abroad has been published and can be found here - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-countries-and-territories-exempt-from-advice-against-all-but-essential-international-travel

FCO advice will remain under constant review to take into account the latest situation in each country.

We are continuing to contact customers in departure date order, as advised by our Tour Operator partners.We are asking our customers to be patient with us as we find ourselves in unprecedented times.

Travel restrictions are gradually lifting, we expect information will continually change by destination over the coming weeks. We are here to assist, but unfortunately there may be delays.

Coronavirus advice for customers

https://www.abta.com/news/coronavirus-outbreak


Get Ready to Travel GuideDownload PDF


We operate under official advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), meaning we’re up to date with the latest developments in our featured destinations.

We advise all customers to take out a valid travel insurance policy from the point of making a holiday booking. We recommend that customers check their policy to ensure that it is appropriate for their chosen travel itinerary.

Please see below for a Q&A for customers.

For full information relating to the Coronavirus outbreak please visit the Government website for more information on the risks and advice on the preventative measures.


The New Normal For Travelling

As the ability to travel and enjoy holidays finally becomes possible again, there are some important points that we feel we should bring to your attention. The following information is provided as a general guide and is not specific to your booking, this is more general observations and points to consider. Specific information relating to the travel and accommodation that may be provided in your arrangements will be made available on your booking documentation. The world is opening but is quite different.

Whilst we are all excited that the ‘new normal’ is ahead of us, it is important to point out that your experience of travelling will likely be quite different to the last time you went overseas. From airports to transfer coaches, taxis locally and the facilities you enjoy in your hotel, there will be many changes, some slight and to be expected some more noticeable. You may be required to carry face masks and wear them at different times, for customers who have pre booked specific seats on a plane for example, you may find that the airline is adopting an approach to take some seats out of service to manage social distancing. In the hotels you may find the meal arrangements include stipulations to pre book to manage the number of people gathered together.

Whilst all of these alterations will have some impact on your experience, this may be the ‘new normal’ and whilst we appreciate this may change how you feel about your holiday, most Tour Operators don’t class this as something that entitles customers to cancel their arrangements without forfeiting cancellation charges.

We do understand that some of our customers may prefer to defer their arrangements to a later date and we will do whatever we can to accommodate this. Charges incurred in any change are likely to be made and the terms of the various Tour Operators and travel suppliers would be discussed with you before agreeing to proceed.

Most Tour Operators that we use, follow the Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice, they will observe their guidance which determines if arrangements can go ahead or not. The travel entry requirements are listed on each countries specific page and we urge all customers to keep checking that information when making their decision around travelling and how safe it is, we cannot give you the answer and each customer must make their own decision based on the various information available, we will however ensure we signpost to the information to help you make your decision. It is also important to note, that if you are travelling on an indirect flight that the entry requirements for all destinations are checked on the website detailed below.

This website may be useful: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice. This is the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website, which since the Coronavirus outbreak began has been offering British nationals advice. Initially with advice to some countries saying that you shouldn’t travel unless it is essential (you have to be the judge of what is essential) and later to advise “against all but essential travel” to any overseas destination. This will slowly relax and each country will have its own specific guidance.

Refunds

The impact that Coronavirus (COVID-19) has had on the travel industry and the suppliers who provide services to create a package holiday has been extensive.
There have been necessary changes to how Blue Bay Travel issue refunds to customers for their cancelled holiday arrangements. During this time refunds are taking longer than usual, and we thank you for your patience.
If you have booked a package including an element of transport, such as a flight, cruise etc it is important that you know that your money is safe and you are financially protected from the financial failure of any of the suppliers, or indeed ourselves as your Travel Agent.
If your booking is cancelled because the FCO advise against travel, you are entitled to a refund, but you may need to be patient with the unfolding refund process. It will be dependent upon the tour operator on your booking.
When you book with Blue Bay Travel
We sell various companies’ holidays in the capacity of an agent. This means that we can offer you a wide range of travel arrangements rather than being limited to just offering one company in the main. When we collect money from you, it is paid over to the travel organiser. If the arrangements are cancelled and a refund is applicable, we must receive the money back from the supplier in order to hand it back to you.
What is a Refund Credit Note (RCN)?
A Refund Credit Note entitles you to rebook a holiday at a future date or receive a cash refund at the expiry date of the note. It also retains the financial protection that you had with your original booking.

If your original booking, for example a package holiday with flights, came with ATOL financial protection, the RCN will still provide this protection. If your original booking came with ABTA financial protection, for example a cruise holiday, the RCN will still provide this protection.

Refund Credit Notes may look different depending on your travel provider, but they should all comprise of the following:

  • An expiry date, which is the date to which your money is protected, and is based on your travel company’s financial protection arrangements. You are entitled to re-book or have a cash refund by this date at the latest (if your original booking was for a package holiday).
  • The value of the Refund Credit Note must be equal in value to the amount you paid for the original booking (or less the amount your travel provider has offered you as a part cash refund).
  • The Refund Credit Note must include the original booking details and reference.
  • The Refund Credit Note must not include any other amount offered as a rebooking incentive or other offer. Any such offers must be documented separately and are not covered by any scheme of financial protection.

You should retain all previous booking documentation including booking confirmations, ATOL Certificates where appropriate and proofs of payment.

I have been offered a Refund Credit Note instead of a cash refund. Should I accept this?

Thousands of customers have already amended and rebooked their holiday or have received a Refund Credit Note from their travel provider. If your original holiday was covered by a financial protection scheme (e.g. ATOL or ABTA), your Refund Credit Note is financially protected by ATOL or ABTA (whichever covered your original booking) in the event your travel business fails. It is important that your Refund Credit Note includes certain things, please see more detail on this there (see What is a Refund Credit Note above).

If I accept a Refund Credit Note, will I lose my right to a cash refund?

No. A Refund Credit Note preserves your right to a cash refund, which can be redeemed at the latest at the expiry date of the note.

Your refund and the Package Travel Regulations (PTR)

The complication with the scale of the current refund position is that the travel organisers are also waiting for the funds back from airlines, hotels, transfers and tour providers. If the amount of refunds that are due were all paid over, within the 14 days as set out in the Package Travel Regulations (PTR), there wouldn’t have been enough time for the funds to have moved around from company to company.
Ultimately someone would fail in the chain and there would likely be a domino effect leaving customers without refunds and having to make a claim against the protection schemes that are in place.

Is a holiday voucher the same as a Refund Credit Note?

No. A holiday voucher is different to a Refund Credit Note. Holiday vouchers, gift vouchers and other discount vouchers are not protected by the schemes of financial protection.

When can I redeem my Refund Credit note for another holiday or a cash refund?

Your Refund Credit Note should include an expiry date which is based on your travel company’s financial protection arrangements, or a date sooner than this.
The reason the dates will vary by provider is because some companies will have financial protection in place for their holidays for a longer period than others. The majority of holiday bookings are covered by ATOL. ABTA does not have the authority to set dates for when ATOL protection applies, this is set by the Civil Aviation Authority.

How is my money protected and why is it important?

The majority of package travel arrangements provided by ABTA Members are protected by either the CAA’s ATOL scheme or by the ABTA Bond of the Member company. Both the ATOL and ABTA schemes protect a refund that was due for a holiday that has not taken place if a travel company fails.
ABTA is an independent organisation, recognised by the UK Department for Business (BEIS) as an Approved Body under the 2018 Package Travel Regulations. Some of our Members provide bonds through one of the other two Approved Bodies – ABTOT or the CPT Bonded Coach Holidays schemes. ABTA accepts the use of both of these schemes.

What Blue Bay Travel are doing

We are keeping in touch with all of the travel organisers we work with to make sure refunds are received as quickly as possible although there has been a call to government to permit that refunds should be made in the form of a Refund Credit Note, effectively delaying the refund to allow the companies involved to work through the administrative tasks to get funds back to the customer.
The Refund Credit Note would be redeemable against a future booking and there may be an option to exchange for cash at a later point (on or before March 31st 2021 is likely).
It is important to note that the value would remain protected against the original booking to keep consumer financial protection in place, so your investment remains protected.
Due to the changes to businesses around the world from reduced staffing levels, offices being unavailable and the additional loss of new sales whilst consumers are coming to terms with the changes on their own circumstances, there is inevitable disruption and we would ask for your understanding of these facts.
The information from many of the travel suppliers involved in the holidays we sell is changing from day to day, which in turn means it is difficult for us to be able to give clear and absolute guidance to our customers and would thank you for your patience as the refund process evolves.

Coronavirus Q&A

Coronavirus Q&A

Updated 03 September 2020

If you have a holiday booked with us travelling within the next 7 days
Suppliers are contacting us in departure date order. We are contacting our customers in turn as soon as we receive notification from the suppliers, thank you in advance for your patience.
If you have a booking with us and you have been advised of a hotel closure.
A member of our team will be in touch with you shortly. Please be patient as we will be contacting our customers in date of departure order
If you have a holiday booked with us travelling in more than 7 days
Your booking is currently unaffected unless we contact you. Should this change, please be patient. A member of our team will contact you in departure date order.
If your holiday balance payment is due to be paid.
Please contact us via e-mail escalations@bluebaytravel.co.uk or on live chat to discuss your options. You can chat to us here
What happens if my travel plans are affected?
Your travel plans may be affected in different ways, we will contact you if your holiday is affected to discuss your options.
Each holiday booking is different, and options will depend on your tour operator, departure date and destination. It is and therefore important for us to discuss your individual choices and preferences with you.
The safety of travellers is a priority for travel companies, and their decisions will follow Government advice, which is based on their objective assessment of risk.
The Foreign Office has a specific page with more information on Coronavirus.
What if I want to change my travel plans?
If you have concerns about your holiday, it might be too early to say that your holiday can not go ahead as planned (see specific departure dates we are currently working on above). Therefore, customers with future departure dates will need to wait to find out whether the advice changes and their holiday can continue as planned. If you cancel early you may have to pay cancellation charges.
Each Tour Organiser has their own process for managing future departures; Customers should monitor FCO advice and updates and ensure that we have up to date contact details so we can get in touch if necessary.
Some travel companies are choosing to offer more flexible booking policies as a result of customer concerns over coronavirus, we can advise you on these.
Customers with an existing package holiday booked, and those considering making plans, can have confidence that there are protections in place for package holidays should the travel advice change.
If I cannot follow my initial travel plans due to the Coronavirus outbreak, am I entitled to compensation?
You won’t be entitled to any compensation, as the reason for the holiday not continuing is outside the control of the tour operator.
What if I'm unsure about going on my holiday?
The Government advice is based on its objective assessment of risk and will always put the safety of UK citizens first. The Government will advise against travel when it judges the level of risk to be unacceptably high.
In the current circumstances, each tour operator decides on the departure period they are working on to allow amendments or cancellations. If your booking falls beyond this period, you are free to make the choice not to go, but there is no obligation on your holiday company to give you a refund. Normal cancellation charges will apply.
It is highly unlikely that you will be able to claim any cancellation charge on your insurance as there is not usually cover for disinclination to travel, but you can check the terms of your policy.
The safety of travellers is a priority for travel companies, and their decisions will follow British Government advice.
I have a pre-existing medical condition and do not want to travel – can I get a refund if I cancel my holiday?
As with the above advice, you’re free to make the choice not to travel, but if the FCO are not advising against travel to your destination then there is no obligation on your travel company to give you a refund. Normal cancellation charges will apply.
If your GP has advised that you do not travel, and provided you with official documentation to confirm this, then you will need to check the terms of your travel insurance policy to see if you can claim any cancellation charge back.