Corvid-19 (Coronavirus): Latest holiday advice and information
As I am sure you will be aware, the Covid-19 virus pandemic is having widespread and severe impacts on travel and tourism around the world. The Highlands and Islands of Scotland are no exception and unfortunately our business has been very significantly affected by the outbreak.
This article provides details of cancelled holidays along with advice on postponing trips, payments and refunds. The article will be updated weekly or more often if there are major announcements by the Scottish or Westminster governments.
Current Situation (as of Monday 23rd March)
Government advice is currently to avoid all non-essential travel and to limit social interactions to a minimum.
The Highlands and Islands are essentially shutting down. Many B&Bs, guest houses and hotels are cancelling bookings, all restaurants are closed and ferry operators are unable to guarantee sailings. Train, plane and bus services are all being reduced with many services already cancelled.
Visitors are being asked to avoid coming to the Highlands & Islands until further notice. We only have very limited hospital beds and shops and an influx of tourists at the height of the pandemic risks overwhelming health provision and creating serious food shortages.
***For these, and many other reasons, we have no option but to cancel all holidays until the end of June. We are incredibly sorry to have to do this. We realise how disappointing this will be for you but I hope you understand that operating holidays in the current situation is simply not feasible.***
We will keep the situation constantly under review and make a decision on holidays from July onwards in due course. However, please be aware that these holidays, too, are at risk of cancellation if the situation does not improve over the next few months.
Cancellations and Postponements
This is a very stressful time for everyone and we intend to be as helpful to our clients as possible. Many of you have been on holiday with us before and have become friends over the years. We will do all that we can to make sure that you do not lose out if you have to postpone or cancel your holiday.
Unlike almost all other tour companies we do not charge non-refundable deposits and we will not be waiting for people to cancel their holidays then making them try and claim their money back on travel insurance – which may or may not be successful. Our procedures for cancellations and postponements are designed to be generous, simple and easy to understand.
What if I am no longer able to travel?
We understand that for many people, especially those over 70 and with underlying health conditions, continuing with your holiday is no longer possible. If you are in this situation we would be hugely grateful if you would consider transferring your deposit to one of our tours in 2021 or 2022. Our 2021 programme is up on our website so you can select from any holiday which has places available. As a thank you from us, the rescheduled holiday will remain at 2020 prices. There will be no administration charge if you choose to amend your holiday dates.
If you feel you cannot reschedule your holiday you may cancel your holiday free of charge and we will refund your deposit (and balance, if already paid).
Whichever option you choose, if you wish to reschedule or cancel your holiday please let us know as soon as possible.
What if we cancel your holiday?
If we have to cancel your holiday we would again ask you to consider transferring your booking to one of our 2021 or 2022 tours. If you do not wish to do this we will refund your deposit and balance (if paid). We will not be liable for any other costs that you incur (e.g. flights, hotels); you should be able to claim for these from your travel insurance.
Will I get my deposit back if I cancel my holiday?
Most walking holiday companies charge a non-refundable deposit upon booking. We have always been prepared to refund deposits, working on the basis that having to cancel your holiday is disappointing enough without losing money over it too. This year however, we are getting large numbers of cancellations, and our family income is going to be severely affected. As you can probably imagine, putting together our extensive 2020 holiday programme has required an enormous amount of work over the winter months. Given the unprecedented nature of the situation, we ask that if possible, you allow us to retain your deposit if you have to cancel. If that is going to be difficult for you financially, however, then of course we will refund your deposit.
I still want to come later in the summer – will my holiday go ahead?
The honest answer to this question is: we don’t know. Advice from both Scottish and Westminster governments is changing daily and no-one knows what the situation is going to be next week, never mind in a month’s time.
If you still wish to come on one of our holidays firstly, thank you! As you can probably imagine, the virus is creating havoc for companies like ours so your custom later this summer would be hugely appreciated.
Secondly, please keep coming back to this webpage and checking for updates. At the moment we are still hoping to run tours from July onwards, but this is very much dependent on the situation significantly improving over the coming months.
Thirdly, we recommend that you hold off paying the balance for your holiday until the week before it is due to start. At this stage we will, hopefully, be in a much better position to say whether the trip will run. Whilst we normally ask that balances are paid 6 weeks before the start of the tour, this year we are going to be much more relaxed: as long as you pay before we meet you in Inverness we will be happy!