Increased infection and admission rates have led to a significant decrease in travel bookings. Many popular travel destinations have a record number of infected people, which means they are also introducing new entry rules and restrictions.
In the Netherlands, it is clear on Friday that there will be widespread restrictions in the country for the next three weeks. Germany, Denmark and Austria offer Corona passports which are required in a number of public places.
Thus, unvaccinated people are not allowed to enter more places in Europe if they cannot produce the Green Corona passport.
Fewer people are booking a flight
Many fear that the lockdowns in various countries will put sticks in the wheels of tourism, and therefore wait to book flights abroad.
Terje Berge is Finn Reise’s commercial director, and he says last week was a bad week for tourism in Norway.
– We saw on that day that there were fewer bookings compared to last week. In parallel with the increasing infections, Berg says, bookings are declining.
The largest proportion of travelers go to Spain, and the vast majority of them travel to the Canary Islands. The United States has also received a boost since the country opened up. Fewer and fewer people are going on longer trips, such as Thailand, where they have very strict restrictions.
However, so far they have seen very few cancellations. Berg asks people to take some time to find out what rules apply in the country they want to travel to before booking.
– In terms of traffic, a lot of people are coming forward to travel now as they were before the pandemic, but they’re not booking, he says.
The manager believes that a big part of the job for travel enthusiasts now is to learn about the rules and the status of infection.
Can’t regret it
Gjensidige’s head of communications, Bjarne Rysstad, warns against booking a flight to a country with a lot of infection. He says you don’t get your money back if you regret it because the country is marked in red, as long as the foreign ministry does not advise against traveling to the country.
– If you have booked a flight while there is no travel advice, and you are now worried about traveling, you cannot regret it like that. But if the Department of Foreign Affairs provides travel advice, and therefore you cancel, there will be a basis for cancellation compensation, Rysstad explains.
He says that if there is a basis for a refund if you regret a trip, it should be booked for a period without advice not to travel there from the State Department. On the other hand, if the travel advice was given after you made your reservation, you are entitled to a refund if you cancel.
– You can’t get cold feet because you’re worried. The Department of State travel advice is linked to our cancellation rules.
Ask people to think carefully
Rosland says the company receives many questions and inquiries from people who have booked travel or are considering booking. He has clear advice for those sitting on the fence and considering a trip abroad.
– Rystad says it’s important for those who travel to familiarize themselves with local conditions and think about what they should and shouldn’t do.
People are asked to fully familiarize themselves with the local conditions in the country they want to travel to, and to assess the risks of traveling abroad at Christmas.
– We are attached to advice that is and does not escalate into what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recommends and does not do. In terms of insurance, as long as you stick to the recommendations, it’s a good idea to comply with them, he believes.
So don’t be surprised you don’t get a refund if a country turns red on the infection map – as long as the State Department hasn’t changed its country travel advice.
No refusal notes
Mary Ann Zachrisson of travel company Ving says she’s fully booked her trips for October and November. She says they have not received a single inquiry from people wanting to cancel due to fear of Corona, but the vast majority who travel with Ving before Christmas go to the Canary Islands where infection rates are still low.
Most of the inquiries we receive are related to assistance in filling out travel documents, other technical questions related to Corona Passports and the like.
Meanwhile, you’re seeing the same trend as in Terje Berge in Finn Reise, which is that travel bookings are slower than they were a few weeks ago.
– There was a higher pace in sales at that time, but then we also had more places to sell. Now we don’t have any more charter flights left to sell this fall, says Zachrisson, who adds that the company still sells scheduled vacation packages on planes.
She believes it is important for the media to care about how they communicate travel rules now that the majority of the population is fully vaccinated.
The media tends to cover entry restrictions from red countries as if they apply to all of Norway, but they only apply to a small portion of the population that has not been vaccinated. Most of them are vaccinated, which means that we are very positive about the future prospects.
– No increase in cancellation
Apollo’s Beatrice Rivera also says the company has not been affected by the increase in the number of registered coronavirus cases. According to Rivera, sales are now on par with before the pandemic.
– We are not noticing an increase in the number of cancellations, and our flights before and after Christmas are well booked from all major cities in Norway. In fact, sales are now at the same level they were in 2019 before the pandemic, so it looks like the desire to travel is back in full force again, Rivera says.
It says the company’s winter capacity has been nearly halved due to the pandemic, and that its two most popular destinations, the Canary Islands and the United Arab Emirates, have much lower infection pressures than Norway.
– In these destinations, vaccination coverage is also high, which may be some of the reasons why our customers’ desire to travel remains unaffected, she says.
– Safe on demand
According to Rivera, most people who make contact are concerned about securing their summer vacation next year, but she stresses that some will also check their rights and opportunities.
– As an all-inclusive tour operator, we of course always follow the group travel law, which in itself is an added security for our travelers. In addition, we have launched new terms for our customers when the pandemic strikes, to increase their security and resiliency.
This means, among other things, that travelers get their money back within seven days if the flight is canceled, and they get a free rebook until departure if someone in the entourage contracts covid-19 or is in quarantine.
In other words, it’s safe to book a vacation trip now, especially if you’ve booked a package trip, says Rivera.
“Organizer. Social media geek. General communicator. Bacon scholar. Proud pop culture trailblazer.”