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CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 30TH MAY 2020
Information on how the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak effects your tour
Date: 2020-05-30

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

 

Hi Everyone,
 
The Coronavirus emergency is obviously having a huge impact on the World at the moment, and with the strict measures now in force here in the UK, we understand how some of you must be feeling - it's certainly a strange and unprecedented time we find ourselves in at the moment. For many of you, like us, birding is not just your hobby but an escape from the pressures of everyday life and a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the natural environment. With that liberty now taken away, for the moment at least, we all have to find new ways to cope and manage to keep birding! Many people have taken to keeping lists of birds seen from their garden or on their daily exercise walk, and garden lists are likely to hit previously unseen heights as the spring migration begins to unfold! As we are now several weeks into the crisis, and the situation is at least a little clearer how things are likely to unfold in the coming weeks, we wanted to post a further update on how this is affecting our tour programme and to give you, our valued customers, some clarity on what it means for your trip.
 
We have already had to cancel all our trips in March, April and May, and if you are due to travel with us during the immediate period we will have either already contacted you with your options, or will be doing so in the next couple of days - tours are being worked through on a chronological basis. Due to the regulations on working from home (and the need for home schooling!), it is quite challenging to man our phone lines at the moment so please be patient with us - an email is currently the best way to contact us if you do wish to speak to a team member, but we would like to reassure you that we are still here to help.
 
We can now also confirm that following the government update on 10th May, we have taken the decision to cancel all our tours departing up until 7th July 2020. If you are booked to travel with us on any tour during that period we will be contacting you in due course. 
 
If you have a booking with us on a tour departing after 7th July, and your balance is due, then please forward payment by the deadline in the normal way as per our Terms & Conditions of booking, unless you have already been advised by us to the contrary. It would be extremely helpful to us if you could pay outstanding balances by bank transfer rather than credit or debit card, to assist us with the burden of the charges, which are considerable. We are pleased to report that we are continuing to receive plenty of bookings for 2021 tours, and again if you are thinking of paying a deposit for a trip then bank transfer would be our preferred method of payment at this time. If you are due to pay an outstanding balance or considering making a new booking, which is subsequently cancelled, then please be reassured on the following points:-
 
1. We will offer you the chance to transfer your funds to another tour (providing it departs by the 31st July 2021) and we are not making any administrative charges for doing this. If the tour you transfer to is a different price from the one you have booked, we will either refund the difference or invoice you for the additional cost, whichever is applicable. If your tour included flights which are being refunded to us as a voucher, the amount available to transfer to the new tour will be less the voucher value.
2. We are prioritising places on 2021 tours to those with an existing booking on that tour in 2020 - our 2021 programme is almost complete and most tours are already available to view online. We are also HOLDING the 2020 price for 2021, to all clients booked for 2020 who choose to transfer the full balance (deposit and balance) of their cancelled booking forward.
3. If you do not wish to transfer your funds to a new tour, then we are happy of course to arrange an appropriate refund. Any refund or transfer will be less any monies we are unable to claim back from airlines for flights booked on your behalf. In some cases, refund from the airline may be issued in the form of a voucher which we will pass on to you. In most cases the voucher can be used for any route operated by the airline. Further information about airline vouchers will be sent to you, if applicable, when we send your tour cancellation email. We will however always try our best to get monetary refunds from airlines wherever possible.
4. If you choose to cancel a tour which has not been subject to cancellation by us, then our normal Terms and Conditions will apply. You may be able to claim for any lost funds via your travel insurance policy, depending on your circumstances and policy wording.
 
*Please note that if you cancel your place on a tour, even if it is later subsequently cancelled by us due to Covid-19 restrictions, then we will not be able to retrospectively offer you the terms in points 1-3 above and it will be treated as a normal cancellation. When you book, we have to pay a premium for financial protection of your monies and this canot be recouped once your place has been treated as a cancellation. You must stay in contract with us to be offered the terms listed above*
 
Transferring to a new tour is helpful to us, our ground agents and tour guides around the World as it helps us to plan for the future so that tours may recommence as soon as practicable. We are grateful to the many of you who have done this on cancelled tours thus far.  
 
In the meantime, we are following all the advice given by the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office going forward and useful updates on individual destinations can be found here:-
 
FCO Website : www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
 
Please be assured that we are a long established and financially robust travel company, and we will get through this emergency. We are very grateful for all the positive comments and support we have received from many of you in the last couple of weeks. This means a lot to us at a challenging time. 
 
Best Wishes,
 
The Oriole Birding Team