Travel with Confidence: Covid-19 New Booking Policy

COVID-19 Promise Policy

We appreciate that COVID-19 has caused disruption to international travel. We have therefore built this policy so that you can rest assured that the following options will be available to you, which are subject to the conditions set out below. We have also included a list of Q&As to help you better understand certain scenarios. This list is by no means exhaustive so please let us know if you have any questions. Ultimately, we want to ensure you understand your rights in full before any booking is made. We endeavour to be transparent and to be as flexible as possible for you at all times.

COVID-19 Promise Policy Conditions

Your eligibility under this COVID-19 Promise Policy is subject to the following conditions:

  1. Validity: this policy applies to new bookings, for any trips departing in the future until further notice (“New Bookings”). For the avoidance of doubt, it shall not apply to any existing bookings which were postponed before this COVID-19 Promise Policy was created e.g. before 25 June 2021.
  2. Timely Payment: any option to request a refund, to postpone/move a trip or to change the destination, as referred to within this COVID-19 Promise Policy shall only trigger if you make all payments required for your booking on time, as per the terms of Paragraph D of our Booking Terms and Conditions and your booking confirmation/invoice. If you do not meet these payment deadlines, our standard cancellation charges shall apply, as per Paragraph J of our Booking Terms and Conditions.
  3. Entire Group: any option to request a refund, to postpone/move a trip or to change the destination, as referred to under this COVID-19 Promise Policy, shall only be available if the request to cancel or make changes is made for the entire group/party included in the New Booking.
  4. Individuals: If any individuals chose to cancel their place in a New Booking (or a New Booking that has been amended under this COVID-19 Promise Policy), our standard cancellation charges under Paragraph H of our Booking Terms and Conditions will apply to that individual. Since the cost of our tour packages are based on the numbers travelling when the booking is made, we will recalculate the price of the tour package and communicate the revised price to you as per Paragraph G of our Booking Terms and Conditions if any individuals cancel their place.
  5. Postponements/Date Changes or Change of Destination: where this COVID-19 Promise Policy permits you to change your destination and/or departure date:

Your New Booking can only be moved to a departure date that falls before the end of the academic year that follows your original New Booking (i.e. before 30 June of the following academic year).

You remain responsible for the costs of making such changes (including, but not limited to, any increase in price if the alternative destination and/or departure date costs more than your original New Booking, which we will advise you of before you decide to make any such change). Paragraph G of our Booking Terms and Conditions shall apply.

  1. Refunds: where reference is made within this COVID-19 Policy to the option to request a refund, we will refund you within 14 days of receiving your written request.
  2. Cancellation: if you cancel your New Booking and request a refund for any reason that is not covered under this COVID-19 Promise Policy or our Booking Terms and Conditions, our standard cancellation fees contained in Paragraph H of our Booking Terms and Conditions shall apply.
  3. Changes: If you request to postpone or change the destination of your New Booking for any reason that is not covered under this COVID-19 Promise Policy or our Booking Terms and Conditions, our standard charges as set out in Paragraph G of our Booking Terms and Conditions shall apply.
  4. Subject to Availability: any requests by you to move your New Booking to an alternative destination and/or date, where permitted under this COVID-19 Promise Policy are subject to availability.
  5. Promise Specific Conditions: you must also meet any additional conditions that are referred to within the promises set out below.
  1. Notifying us: any option to request a refund, to postpone/move a trip or to change a trip’s destination, as referred to within this COVID-19 Promise Policy, shall only trigger upon you making a request in writing to us – see ‘Notifying Us’ below.

 

Our Promises to You

The following options shall be available to you, provided you meet the conditions set out in this COVID-19 Policy (including any conditions that are specific to the promise you seek to rely on):

INSURANCEAXA, ABTA and the School Travel Forum have put together a specialist youth groups individual insurance package. You can read the policy in full by requesting it from us but the highlights are:

  • If passengers test positive for Covid-19 or have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus, then they are insured for a 100% refund if they cannot travel.
  • If a passenger’s tour is extended as a result of contracting Covid-19, their medical expenses are covered, as they would be for any illness/injury that takes place whilst abroad. A member of school staff to chaperone them will also be covered.
  • Free access to a travel companion app, which includes a medical translator, hospital locator, emergency numbers, medical assistance and lots more
  • All the other inclusions you would expect from a travel insurance policy

This is available for £2.25 per person per day for tours to Europe and £3.26 per person per day for the rest of the world. Please also see https://travelsure.abta.com/stf/

PACKAGE TOUR REFUND GUARANTEE PROMISE

If you have booked a tour package from us, and we cancel due to COVID-19, we will provide you with a full refund within 14 days of us cancelling. You will also have the option to accept an alternative tour of comparable standard from us, if we are able to offer one (we will refund any difference in price if the alternative tour offered costs less than your original tour package, but any increase in price will be payable by you). Please refer to Paragraph J of our Booking Terms and Conditions for more information.   

PACKAGE TOUR FINANCIAL PROTECTION PROMISE

All of our package tours are financially protected under our ATOL license (number 9684) which is issued by the Civil Aviation Authority. This means that if we are unable to provide any of the travel services included in your ATOL Certificate, due to our insolvency, an alternative ATOL holder may be able to provide those services to you. However, if this is not possible, you will be able to recover a full refund from the Trustees of the Air Travel Trust. For more information regarding the financial protection we have in place, please refer to Paragraph P of our Booking Terms and Conditions. 

DEPOSIT REFUND PROMISE

You can cancel any New Booking you make within the terms of our COVID-19 Promise Policy up to 31 December 2021 and receive a full refund of the tour deposit you have paid to us.

Additional Condition:

  1. This Deposit Refund Promise shall only apply if the reason for your refund request is due to a COVID-19 related issue. You will be required to provide full information of the reasons behind your request for our consideration.

FLEXIBLE DEPOSIT PROMISE

You can move your entire New Booking (and any deposit paid) to an alternative destination and/or departure date upon request. Please see our Covid-19 Promise Policy for further details.

QUARANTINE RESTRICTION PROMIS

We will provide you with a full refund, where requested by you, if the local Government/authorities at your destination(s) put mandatory quarantine restrictions in place which mean that your entire group/party will be legally required to quarantine on arrival. For the avoidance of doubt, this promise shall only trigger if such quarantine restrictions are in place less than 21 days before the date of departure and will continue to be in place upon arrival at your destination(s).  You can move your entire New Booking to an alternative date if, within 21 days before the date of departure, the UK Government introduces quarantine restrictions which mean that your entire group/party will be required to quarantine upon return to the UK.

DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION ADVICE PROMISE – this applies to school groups only

If you are a school group, you can move your entire New Booking to an alternative date if the UK Department for Education issues advice/guidance against international school trips within 21 days of your departure date.

LOCKDOWN PROMISE

You can request to postpone your New Booking to an alternative date if, within 21 days before departure, the UK Government announces local or national lockdown restrictions. 

NOTIFYING US

If you find yourself in any of the scenarios set out above and would like to exercise any of the options available to you in this COVID-19 risk assessment, the Tour Leader must make a written request to their Sporta Tours sales representative.

WHILST ON TOUR

  • Our staff are fully vaccinated and will test regularly whilst with your team
  • Our buses are sanitized daily and drivers wear masks at all times
  • Airlines, hotels and our other suppliers operate strict hygiene requirements at all times
  • PCR tests can be conducted in your hotel before return to the UK, if required
  • Social distancing will be practiced as much as possible
  • Policies such as sitting in the same seat on the bus every day for transfers can help to mitigate the risk of infection spreading.

 

 

 

FAQs

These FAQs are designed to clarify a number of scenarios that may be encountered, in simple to understand terms. This list will be updated with new Q&As as and when our customers raise them. This list is by no means exhaustive and we encourage you to ask us any questions you may have. Scenarios resulting in you being ‘left out-of-pocket’ should be covered either by our responsibility to you, or by your travel insurance. We encourage you to consult with your travel insurance provider, in addition to understanding our terms and conditions, before you commit to booking a tour.

  1. I or my son/daughter has to cancel because I/they contract covid-19 before departure. Do I receive a refund?

Here, the responsibility lies with individual/group travel insurance. The AXA policy mentioned above covers your losses for this eventuality.

  1. I or my son/daughter cancels because someone in my/their “bubble” becomes infected and is required to isolate, hence cannot travel. 

This scenario is the same as Question 1 above, except on a wider scale. Those individuals required to self-isolate must claim on their travel insurance. The AXA policy mentioned above covers your losses for this eventuality.

In the event the entire group has to isolate and cannot travel, this would also be a matter for your travel insurance. Sporta Tours would still be able to deliver the tour services, and therefore is not liable to provide a refund. This is a scenario which you must be aware is not covered under our terms, and we want to be transparent about this. The AXA policy mentioned above would cover your losses for this eventuality, rather than Sporta Tours.

  1. The tour is cancelled before departure due to Covid-19 (i.e. infection rates rise, lockdown is announced, etc.) Is there a difference in terms of refunds between a) The UK Government changes the destination from Green to Amber/Red and b) the Destination Country restricts UK arrivals?

No. Any situation where the group as a whole cannot legally travel means that Sporta Tours are unable to deliver the tour services, and you will therefore receive a refund from us. Our responsibility as a Tour Operator requires us to refund you in full if we cannot deliver the services we sold to you. 

The main consideration to be aware of here is when your right to a refund ‘triggers’. For example, if your destination country is on the UK’s red list two months prior to departure, Sporta Tours do not yet have to cancel the tour and provide a full refund. Legally, Sporta Tours can delay this decision until departure is ‘imminent’. ‘Imminent’, as defined in the Package Travel Regulations 2018, is not specified as a given number of days, and is open to interpretation. Sporta Tours have chosen a period of between 21-30 days to be considered ‘imminent’. We will inform you what the specific number of days will be for your tour, depending on your individual circumstances. 

  1. We are on tour and the duration of the tour is extended because a member of the party cannot meet the “fit to fly” requirement to return home from the destination. What happens in this scenario?

Any situation where the tour is extended in length (for all/any of the group) whilst you are in the destination (this could be an injury, Covid-19, a volcanic eruption etc.) is a matter for travel insurance. Sporta Tours will provide assistance, but are not liable for any costs incurred, nor would any refunds be due. This is because these situations are not under our control. 

We have considered the scenario whereby a student/staff member on the tour contracts Covid and cannot fly home with the rest of the group. We would be happy to discuss the costs associated with clients bringing an additional staff member who would be the appointed chaperone in the above event – please contact your Sporta account manager to discuss

  1. What if individuals or the group as a whole are disinclined to travel? Will a refund be due in this case?

If the tour can take place (i.e. there are no Covid-19 restrictions in place that significantly affect our provision of the tour services), then Sporta Tours are not legally obliged to provide a full refund, and it would not be covered by the AXA travel insurance policy either. We will do our best to refund as much as we can, but you must be aware that disinclination to travel does not trigger your right to a refund. 

For example, if Covid-19 cases in your destination country are rising two months before your tour, and you wish to cancel, a full refund would not be due. It may transpire that, within 21-30 days of departure, we do have to cancel the tour because the UK/destination government restrict travel as a result of rising cases. At that point, if you had not pre-emptively cancelled, you would receive a full refund.

However, if you personally chose to pre-emptively cancel, in anticipation of restrictions coming into force, at that point in time it is your decision. Normal cancellation terms would apply because Sporta Tours are, at the point in time your cancel, still able to deliver the tour. Therefore, a full refund would not be due. 

The important point to remember here is Sporta Tours carry the financial risk. At no point once you have booked your tour do you lose the right to a refund in the event we have to cancel the tour. As a result, there is no financial incentive for you to pre-emptively cancel the tour, as you are protected by our responsibility as a tour operator. If you still wish to pre-emptively cancel the tour, then you must check with your travel insurance provider on what refund they may pay in this scenario.

  1. My destination is currently on the UK’s amber/red list. If I book a tour to this destination, is this my risk/ am I waiving my right to refund?

No. The current status of a destination does not impact your right to a refund if, come your imminent departure, it is still on the amber/red list. You are not ‘taking the financial risk yourself’ by booking a tour to an amber/ red list destination. It is still Sporta Tours’ responsibility to refund you in full if, come imminent departure, restrictions will significantly affect your tour or make it unlawful to travel.

  1. What is the UK government’s current policy for under 18s?

As of time of writing, there will be no change to the current requirements for children travelling from or to red list countries (who would need a pre-departure test, to isolate in a Managed Quarantine Hotel and take day 2 and 8 tests). Specifically:

  • Children travelling from non-red listcountries who are resident in the UK, or countries that are part of our fully vaccinated policy, please see list here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-quarantine-when-you-arrive-in-england will be treated the same as fully vaccinated adults’ resident in those countries whether they have been vaccinated or not, which means they do not need to isolate and that from 4 Oct they no longer need a pre-departure test.
  • From the end of October over 5s will just need a lateral flow test on day 2 with confirmatory PCR if they test positive. Under 5s have always been exempt from testing.
  • Children resident in countries where vaccines / vaccine certification is not yet recognised will need to follow the rules for unvaccinated passengers.

 

End. Last updated 24th September 2021.