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Latest Update on Covid19 Virus and Walking Holidays - Posted 12th May 2020

Pembrokeshire Coast Path Pwll Derri

These are difficult times for everyone but we hope this message finds you, your families and your communities well. We send our best wishes to you all from here in Cornwall where we are currently still under Covid19 restrictions and a partial lockdown.

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Coronavirus ImageQuick Links

Latest Update and Statement 12th May 2020

How to contact us for updates during lockdown

Holidays booked starting in May, June and July 2020

Holidays booked with start dates in Aug and Sept 2020

New Quotes and Enquiries for 2020 and 2021 season

Official Advice and Updates on travel to and within the UK

 

 

Our Statement on Covid19 Virus and your Walking Holidays - posted 12th May 2020 -

As many of you are aware we were holding on over the weekend to hear the latest Government advice on safety in this pandemic as well as what timescales were being suggested for the UK to come out of its lockdown.  This information was what we needed to review when we could reasonably expect our walking holidays to restart. Whilst the main routes are now open for walkers currently no facilities for staying, camping or eating are allowed to operate - effectively then you can't currently do anything other than a day walk in England and restrictions are even more strict in Wales and Scotland at this time. 

The Key issues are as follows and our decisions on your holidays are based upon the 'Official advice' in these three areas

Hotels, B&B's Cafes, Restaurants and Pubs - 'No Hospitality Facilities (cafes, pubs, hotels, restaurants) will be allowed to open in the UK before the 4th July at the earliest and even then this will initially only be a small number of restaurants and hotels operating at a far reduced capacity and service to allow for social distancing to be practiced'. Currently only take away services are possible in larger locations in the UK and this makes operating walking holidays impossible until this is fully lifted as you need not only places to stay on the trail but food and drink options along the walk.

Overseas Arrivals to the UK - The UK will bring in a quarantine Program for anyone arriving from overseas (except France) which will require you to self isolate in one location for 14 days.  We do not know how long this will continue for but clearly even if you were able to get a flight to the UK you would need to arrive 2 weeks before your walking holiday in case you were told to quarantine.  We hope this may change perhaps to a situation where an onsite test at the Airport can be done to prove you do not have the virus (in Austria this is done and test results are back in 3 hours) -  however in the UK no sign of this option at present.

Walking Areas  -  Currently the areas of the South West and Wales we operate in are the least affected by the virus due to their remoteness -  something we are very thankful for.  However this does mean that these areas,  which are amongst the UK's most popular holiday destinations are much more vulnerable and exposed in the early days of relaxation of the lockdown. Both local residents and visitors should be aware that the regions are keen to avoid a very sudden and large influx of visitors in a very short space of time as this is likely to see a sudden increase in infections.  We live and work here in Cornwall and understand the concerns in the region about trying to ensure a steady and controlled increase in visitors until all can be sure its safe for you and for your hosts.

For this reason we do not feel we are acting responsibly or safely  if we encourage you into these regions immediately following the first relaxation of our lockdown. Safety of our walkers and our accommodation providers, transfer staff and office staff is paramount and second to that is being able to provide the high quality experience that are walking holidays and routes are famous for.  We are seeing many insurance companies struggling to support customers or ruling out any claims related to the virus and this is not the time to find yourselves without insurance if virus management is not fully developed or implemented

Summary -  We feel the right thing to do is to cancel all walking holidays with a start date in June and July. June walks definitely cannot go ahead and it looks highly unlikely that July walks would be able to operate or run at an acceptable standard of safety, enjoyment and quality. Whilst that puts a large financial burden on Encounter Walking Holidays in issuing credits for your holidays and rebooking in the future,  we know the right thing to do is only to provide your walks when they will be safe and enjoyable. Most of customers return to us year after year and we feel sure you will understand and appreciate our decisions.

We  therefore are hoping that August, September and October walking holidays will be safe and enjoyable and are concentrating on getting these underway as they will start  around 3 or 4 weeks after the lockdown lifts. We will also start taking bookings for 2021 for those who want to postpone their walk until then

Thank you again for your patience -

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Showery Tor Cornwall Contacting Us - As advised by the Government all our staff are now either self-isolating due to Coronavirus or are working remotely to avoid any chance of spreading the virus to each other.  We therefore are not able to staff the office phone line at this time. There are several of us working on emails and we will respond to any questions or issues that you email in to us on info@encounterwalkingholidays.com

Please continue to check back here for updates and also the South West Coast Path Association website which has a good summary of the current situation for those wanting to walk the path www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk/newsapp/article/347/

 

If you are due to start your holiday in May, June or July 2020

If you have a holiday booked to start in May, June or July we will be in touch directly by email with the lead booker in your group to say that sadly it will not be possible for your walk to go ahead for the reasons above. Please see the section above for more info on why currently its not safe or viable for your holiday to go ahead -  Latest Update and Statement 12th May 2020

If you have NOT heard from us by email please check with the person that booked your walk or contact us via our main email address info@encounterwalkingholidays.com We understand many travel and insurance companies are finding it difficult to reply to an overwhelming number of messages but please be assured that even though we are on reduced staff, we are able to get back to you within 3 working days and often much sooner

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If you are due to start your walking holiday during August, September or October  2020

Dartmoor

We will not cancel your walking holiday bookings without telling you but we will assess whether or not your booking can go ahead 3-4 weeks before you are due to start your holiday and get in touch with you at that point to ensure they are safe and viable for you to enjoy.

If you are due to pay your balance payment then we would advise you only do this if we have confirmed with you that your walking holiday will go ahead. We are allowing you more time to make a balance payment and it will now be due only around 4 weeks before arrival instead of the usual 8 weeks to allow you and us to make the right decision about your holiday

If YOU decide to cancel your holiday for August onwards now  then this will be subject to our usual terms and conditions. When you ask us to book for you we undertake all the accommodation bookings, pre-payments and transfer arrangement work before confirming these are in place and requesting a deposit. If you cancel we now need to do the additional work of unbooking those arrangements and for that reason if you cancel you will lose your non-refundable deposit. However we will return any balance payments as soon as possible if you have made them, which will be the main costs of your holiday and additionally you can look to reclaim your deposit from your travel insurance.  

Female WalkersHaving travel insurance is a requirement of booking as advised on our quotes and you should claim back your non-refundable deposit if you are unable to travel to your walking holiday because your country has banned overseas travel or if you have health issues that mean you should not be traveling at this time. Make sure you ask to claim under Travel Disruption and / or Cancellation clauses as some insurers are wrongly advising that you have to have caught the virus to be eligible and this is NOT the case under Disruption and Cancellation clauses.  If you would like one we will provide a letter for your insurers confirming you have cancelled along with details of our Terms and Conditions and a summary of what you have paid so please just ask us for this when you cancel.

If WE are unable to operate your walking holiday due to restrictions in the walking area then we will advise you directly, cancel your holiday and provide a credit note to the full value of all of your payments to date. 

You will be able to use your credit note against rebooking your original walking holiday or against any of our current walking holidays if you decide you want to change your route plans. For your peace of mind Credit Notes are underwritten by ABTOT our trade body and bond insurer so that in the unlikely event that we were to cease operating your money would be safe and you would be refunded by ABTOT.

Credit Notes - Credit Notes are non-transferable and will be emailed to the lead booker of your holiday along with our confirmation that your holiday has been cancelled. If you want to rebook your holiday for later this year or next season then you will able to do this with your credit note as soon as the restrictions are lifted and your holiday can be operated. We normally start taking bookings in August for the following season, so if restrictions are lifted we will take rebookings from 1st August 2020 for you to take your walks in 2021/22 season.  ABTOT have advised us that credit notes will be valid for their bond cover as long as your bookings are made by the 31st March 2021. You can still take your holiday later in 2021 /2022 and be covered as long as you have given us the dates for us to rebook by 31st March 2021.

We will aim to book the same accommodation and activities of your original holiday once you give us the new dates for your walk. Please note we cannot guarantee the same accommodation or rooms will always be available but if any are not we will offer alternatives of the same standard for your new dates and we will advise you of the change.  If you choose a holiday cheaper than your current booking we reserve the right not to refund the difference but will discuss this with your group at the time of rebooking.

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New Quotes and Enquiries for 2020 and 2021 season

We are currently producing quotes and dealing with enquiries for NEW walking bookings in 2020 from August onwards and we are opening longer into Autumn to make sure everyone who wants to walk this year can get something in.  We are also busy providing advice, planning and quotes for 2021 walks which we will be booking in from August this year -  to send in an enquiry for a new walk please use the enquiry form on this link

Official Advice on Travel to the UK and where to get it

Keep an eye on the advice at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office or your Countries equivalent for up to date advice on any areas of the UK that have a travel exclusion or that your government is advising you to avoid. You will find the latest official advice from your Government on travel and staying healthy on these websites.

UK - www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-action-plan

USA - www.travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/UnitedKingdom.html

Canada www.travel.gc.ca/destinations/united-kingdom

Australia - www.smartraveller.gov.au/destinations/europe/united-kingdom

Currently many countries are advising against travel to Europe and the UK use the links above to find the latest position.

If you want more up to date information about what the UK Government is currently doing to deal with the Virus this can be found on this link. This is updated daily and is the official UK position - www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-action-plan  

You can contact us at any point if you want to know the latest local situation or have any worries or questions about your forthcoming holiday - email us on info@encounterwalkingholidays.com

Once in the UK we advise walkers keep up to date with National news programs and follow local advice. We will be ready to help you once you have started your holiday if any restrictions prevent your holiday running as planned and we will take responsibility for any issues that arise.

Finally all of us at Encounter Walking Holidays want to thank all those in the NHS and other organisations who selflessly put themselves in danger to look after the rest of us.

Love the NHS sheep

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Quick Links

Latest Situation in the UK www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-action-plan  

Terms and Conditions of Booking https://encounterwalkingholidays.com/booking_conditions

South West Coast Path Association information on Walking the Coast Path www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk/newsapp/article/347/