Agents ‘will only book holidays if clients understand risk of changes’

Travel agents say they would only be happy to book clients for summer 2020 getaways if they understand the likelihood of swift changes to quarantine rules and travel restrictions.

Agents speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast said that – since government advice on Spain was changes – customers were turning to them for answers.

David Walker, a Not Just Travel agent who goes by The Travel Snob, said: “If people ring me up saying ‘am I ok to go away?’ my instant answer is no.

“If you’re asking me if it’s ok for you to go away then no it’s not. If you were to ring me and say ‘I want to go away on Wednesday, what are the restrictions?’, then absolutely I will send them.”

But he stressed: “If they want my assurance, I can’t give them my assurance because of the unknown. If they want me to say it’s ok, then it’s not ok.”

Kate Harris, of Inspired Travel, said she was ensuring every one of her customers due to travel was happy with their level of insurance and said that if customers are booking with an operator, “like Jet2holidays”, who has been good with cancelling and refunding holidays then she would agree to make the booking.

“If the client’s instructing me they’re happy to go on holiday then I’m happy to do it,” she said.

Commenting on other agents refusing to accept bookings because of the uncertainty, Harris added: “Perhaps they’d like to pass on my number? I’ve got a mortgage that needs paying.”

Gemma Antrobus said the question customers had been asking is ‘where can we go that won’t get taken off the [government’s safe] list?’ “We can’t answer that,” she said, adding that many were asking about the south of France.

But she said she had advised clients against going as prices have risen dramatically and the availability was “like trying to find unicorn tears”, and “what’s left is not great.”

Antrobus said Greece seemed to be a better option, “as would Portugal, if it was on the list – which it isn’t”.

The agents said they were also determined to go to destinations not hit by restrictions themselves.

Walker was due to travel to Spain this weekend but has now switched his trip to Turkey.

Kate Harris was due to travel to Greece this week. “I intend to do live Facebook updates. I just feel like people need to see that it is ok to travel. I’ve started to use my Facebook as an information centre.”

Gemma Antrobus, owner of Haslemere Travel and chairman of Aito Agents, had booked to a long weekend in Seville last week with the intention of documenting the trip for her customers.

She noted a flurry of customers who had booked direct coming to her agency “more nervous” about doing so again because they “didn’t have the support”.


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