New Zealand’s travel industry is warning holidaymakers to prepare for disruptions to their plans if they contract Covid-19, encouraging Kiwis to take out insurance in case of foiled trips.
One traveller was left questioning why they couldn’t change the dates of their booked accommodation or get a refund after they fell ill with the virus last week, and were told by the Bay of Plenty holiday park they had missed the cutoff date to be eligible for free cancellation.
“I didn’t want to cancel my booking, but instead kindly asked them to modify dates,” he told the Herald. “There must be human kindness needed in this kind of scenario.”
Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Rebecca Ingram said it was important holidaymakers put plans in place for what they would do if their travel is disrupted by Covid or other illnesses.
The Ministry of Health yesterday reported 7487 cases of Covid-19, almost double the previous day’s infections, which experts believed could reach 10,000 by Christmas.
Ingram said both domestic and international tourists should take out travel insurance, an encouragement echoed by others in the industry.
“Tourism is restarting across the country and operators are under pressure. Our number one tip is please book ahead wherever possible and be understanding that things may be different this summer as the industry steps back on the front foot,” she said.
“As Covid is now endemic throughout Aotearoa New Zealand, tourism businesses are returning to pre-Covid cancellation protocols. So travellers should read the cancellation policies on their booking carefully.”
A spokesperson for Air New Zealand said the company was “really encouraging” customers to purchase insurance, even while the airline’s “Covid compassionate team” were still considering refund requests for some.
”We understand unforeseen circumstances do arise, and we encourage our customers to consider booking flexi-fares to allow for these situations.
“Flexi-change allows customers to change their flight time or date with no change fee, while Flexi-refund means fares are fully refundable if customers need to cancel prior to travel,” the spokesperson said.
A spokesperson for Flight Centre said standard terms and conditions applied for most of their services, including hotels and tour and cruise operators: “This is why it’s vitally important that customers have travel insurance.”
Refund and booking change rules were set by those operators themselves, they said. Most accommodation and travel companies were charging standard change and cancellation fees now.