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CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 29TH JUNE 2020
Information on how the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak effects your tour
Date: 2020-06-29

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

 

Hi Everyone,
 
The Coronavirus emergency is obviously having a huge impact on the World at the moment, and with the measures in force over recent months 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. Many people took to keeping lists of birds seen from their garden or on their daily exercise walk, and garden lists have hit previously unseen heights as the spring migration unfolded - see our own write ups from the Spring on our Birding Diary page of Latest News, both from Norfolk and also Mallorca, where our staff leader Jason Moss resides. Things are now changing, as we ease our way out of the lockdown, and I'm sure many of you will be excited to think about taking your first trips with us again. We have been recently working on our programme, with several new day trips added (See our Liberation Birding tours!) and we areb hopeful of operating our first Covid-secure trips from July. 
 
We have already had to cancel all our trips up to the beginning of July, 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 coming 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.
 
All our tours are currently cancelled for departures up to 7th July. Following the most recent government announcement, tours beyond that date are under continual review, so that we can assess whether it is possible to run these in a covid-secure manner. This involves liason with ground agents and hotesl, where apparopriate.
 
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 our normal Terms & Conditions will apply and we will not be able to retrospectively offer you the refund/transfer option. 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 months. This means a lot to us at a challenging time. 
 
Best Wishes,
 
The Oriole Birding Team