As the UK government continues its lockdown measures in a battle against the coronavirus pandemic, many holidaymakers are growing increasingly concerned that their holiday plans may never come to fruition. Despite the Foreign and Commonwealth’s (FCO) advisory to avoid all non-essential travel for an indefinite period of time, many Britons have reported “being pressured into” paying their existing holiday payments.
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However, though it may seem “counter-intuitive” a travel expert has urged Britons to continue making these payments if they possibly can.
Simon Calder appeared on ITV’s This Morning on Tuesday to explain why these holiday payments are actually a form of insurance, and vital to ensuring Britons don’t actually lose more money.
He explained: “What’s happening now is that all of the demands for paying the balances of trips going out in July and August are all coming in, so people are being told ‘yeah, you’ve paid a few hundred pounds.
“You now have to pay us many more hundreds of pounds, maybe even thousands of pounds for the rest of your trips’ and they don’t know what to do.
“Assuming that you still want to go on holiday, and that’s a big if, particularly for people in maybe some of the risk groups, then if you can possibly afford to pay the balance please do.
“That way you will either get your holiday as you booked, which will be lovely, or you will get all of your money back if it gets cancelled because of government advice whatever that happens to be at the time.”
He continued: “It’s the best insurance policy. It sounds a little counterintuitive to keep on paying money to get your money back, but I’m afraid that’s the way the rules work and if you say ‘right I’m not paying the rest’ then, first of all, you will lose your deposit, and it could well be that actually the travel company could come after you for more money, particularly if you’ve taken advantage of a low deposit holiday scheme.”
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Mr Calder added that customers who pay off their package holidays will be protected under the ATOL scheme even if the holiday company is forced to go into administration.
The travel expert also had a tip for those who feel they simply can not afford to make any more payments due to job losses or reduced income.
He said: “If you have booked a proper package holiday there is a good chance that you can transfer the trip to someone else.
“That’s worth considering, and I am sorry to say that a lot of people who have been in contact with me have not been advised that that is a possibility but for a lot of people it would be a good solution.”
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This Morning’s hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby also questioned Mr Calder on his opinion on a recent interview with Health Secretary Matt Hancock which suggested summer holidays might not be on the agenda for Britons at all.
His revelation came amid a wave of airlines trying to organise safe ways to resume flights and ultimately revive the hard-hit travel industry.
“My jaw just dropped, I think along with several hundred other jaws from the many people who work in the travel industry in the UK who are doing all they can to try to get plenty of us away on holiday,” said Mr Calder.
“I’ve gone back over that clip many times with Matt Hancock, as though they are actively discussing in government ‘well should we keep it there all summer?’,” he added.
“Say we will ban all travel abroad until the end of August, which actually would give at least some certainty, although it would destroy many more jobs in the travel industry.”
The FCO has given no indication of when, or if, they will lift the travel ban.
Mr Calder reported contacting the FCO for an update, but they shared no further information.
“I’ve just been in touch with the Foreign Office and asked ‘are you going to say anything different ever’ and they said our consumer advice is under constant review,” he said.
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