Boy who would have thought the world would change so much in 10 days.
Please safe, be kind to yourself and each other, and remember those on the front line and the millions who have overnight lost their jobs and livelihood.
Most of us are currently confined in lock down somewhere around the world, so I thought I would give you a update, though updates seem to be a moving target at the moment.
It has certainly been an eventful few days, as the Japan "Cherry Blossom tour" was just starting when all the ground rules changed, long story short, only one other person and myself made it to Japan as we were heading there 4 days early. In the end it became a scramble to get home again before boarders closed, and airlines stopped flying. David got back to Sydney just before Australia closed up, I could not get back to my apartment in Thailand as boarder closed to non Thais. Ended up getting a flight to UK which seemed to be the only country still open. Felt a bit like flying into the center of the storm after the normality of Japan. Now in isolation for 14 days before I can move in and help care for my elderly mother who is in the UKs over 70,s isolation.
So whats happening ?
Firstly I want to assure you that your trip deposits are safe, and fully transferable, to any future tour, at any time, to any tour. Ignore the 90 days notice in T&C we are under highly unusual conditions you can cancel and transfer the deposit at any time.
Its becoming clear that this is going to be a long and rapidly changing event, each country is reacting differently, and each is at a different stage of the Pandemic. Policies are evolving and changing all the time. Things will settle down, but this is unlikely in the next 3-4 months.
Airlines, are cancelling and rescheduling flights by the min, the policy for the most part is based on a rolling time frame, where free changes or voucher credits are offered only 1-2 months in advance of the departing flight, and valid for 12 months. Offers of refunds are rare (airlines are cash challenged) If your offered a refund, take it! the Airline may not be there in a few months. You can always re- book if the the trip is going ahead.If your offered a credit to use in 12 months, usually you can use it to any of that airlines destinations. If your offered only a date change then let me know, as I am in the process of rescheduling trip dates for next year.
Travel insurance. A lot of companies have suspended sales of new policies. These policies exist to reassure us when we travel, they have been hit hard with claims, and currently do not offer cover for Covid 19, for policies issued after the 20th Jan (when WHO declared the virus a known event)
Of course people will only buy these policies if they offer cover, so to continue selling the companies are now in the process of factoring in the current conditions, and will soon be marketing their new policies as such.
I cannot predict the future but here are my current thoughts on the trips people are currently booked on.
Boarders currently closed and all flights cancelled.
This trip cannot go ahead as planned, and I will look at rescheduling for next year, or later this year. Everyone who had flights booked has had a credit, so all good. No one will loose any money.
Boarders currently closed and all flights cancelled. My June flights have been cancelled ,which indicates the airlines think June is unlikely to happen.
Many of you have flights booked for this trip, June may still be outside your airlines credit policy, so keep an eye out and let me know what is offered. (If you booked through Leisa you may be able to get a 12 month credit so contact her) If you are only offered a flight date change and not a credit, then move the dates to the next scheduled Burma trip in February 2021 (See website) and I will keep the price and inclusions of the low season 0 June departure for the high season trip.
Sri Lanka (July)
Boarders currently closed, and all flights suspended. Visas not being issued.
For those of you with airline tickets I am almost certain airlines will be offering a credit for Sri Lanka for July, if offered take it. If only offered a time change then let me know and I will give you some new dates for next year.
Peru is currently in lock down and transiting Chile is also not happening, however this is 6 months away and the landscape will be very different by then. Some airlines will no longer be flying and some hotels will have gone under, however, my feeling is this trip is likely to go ahead.
For this trip we can revisit and see what is happening in the world in June-July. I will move full payment from 60 days prior to 30 days to give us more time. Airlines will need to be flying again, what is certain is the schedules will be reduced. Travel insurance will also need to have caught up with the situation for me to say its a good idea for us to go. Boarders will have to be open.
So for Peru keep things open, I will keep you updated, you can cancel anytime and move your deposit to a future trip, or hold off making a decision and we can make it together early July.
Many of you have your flights booked for this trip, including myself, airlines are likely only to release their policy on September flights around 60-90 days before, as they will be hoping things are getting back to normal by then. If the situation in July is still not looking good, then the trip will be postponed for a year. September is the best time of year for this trip and I will reschedule for the same time as long as the airlines are offering 12 month credit.
Boarders closed and the country is in total lock down.
If things are not back to some type of normal by this stage, then there are unlikely to be any airlines to fly on anyway. So lets re visit this closer to the time. No one I know of has booked their airfare, other than me, so hold off please!! Argentina could be very hard hit and the economy is very fragile so, this is a wait and see.
The world will be a different place, but lets hope they will all be going ahead as planned.
I am an optimist, and always believe something good will come out of this, lets hope the world learns, and starts working together to prevent future pandemics getting so out of hand. Lets make politicians Increase health funding, and up preparation and prevention. This pandemic may actually help climate change, and society may start focusing more on, food production, health care and the basics of a good healthy life, rather than mass consumerism.
For me the one good thing with now being unemployed, is I can help care for my Mother who has dementia, and get to spend a bit of time with her while she still knows who I am.
Wishing you all strength and goodwill to get us through these difficult times. Remember we may be upset we are loosing a holiday, but for many people in the countries we visit who rely on our tourism dollar, they have lost their jobs and livelihood. The wreckage from this is at many levels. As a "One man band" I am lucky I don't have to lay anyone off, but this week have to break the news to all the locals who make our trips so enjoyable, that this year they will have no income. Your deposits are safe, they are in a trust account.
A huge thank you also to the front line, health staff battling this virus, and the many essential services keeping food on our tables and the basics of life happening. We salute you.
"Wash your hands" be kind to each other.