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UPDATED MONDAY 07 SEPTEMBER

Response and Policy

The situation and news surrounding the Coronavirus is changing on a daily basis, as are our learnings and understanding of the measures required to slow and manage its spread.

Whilst our advice for customers is always guided by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, our experienced operations team are also monitoring the news and official advice on Covid-19 and are in regular dialogue with our colleagues on the ground in resort. The health and safety of our customers, staff and local partners is paramount.

On Friday 03 July the UK government announced a series of ‘travel corridors’, whereby arrivals into the UK would be exempt from the need to quarantine. This list of countries remains fluid and subject to change with little notice.

As of Monday 7 September, Greece* is exempt from quarantine measures and travel bans. Cyprus is on the travel corridor list and UK residents are permitted entry provided a negative Covid-19 test (obtained within 72 hours of travel) can be proved on arrival.

* IMPORTANT NOTE: At 16:00 on Monday 07 September, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) introduced travel restrictions to seven Greek islands: Santorini, Mykonos, Crete, Tinos, Serifos, Lesvos and Zakynthos. These restrictions will apply as of 04:00 on Wednesday 09 September, after which time the advice will be against all non-essential travel to these islands and those returning will need to self-isolate. The rest of Greece is exempt from this policy change..

We understand that you may have questions concerning your confirmed holiday or proposed trip and have compiled a short Q&A below. This policy explains what would happen if the FCDO advises against ‘all but essential travel’ to your holiday destination. Any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us on 020 8232 9780.

Remember that in a fast-changing situation like this, we may not have clear answers to every question. But we will always do our best to tell you clearly what we know, and what we don’t know.

Our guidance: Insurance

It has always been a condition of booking that all our travellers have valid insurance, including health and repatriation cover, when they travel. This remains as important as ever, if not more so.

In response to the global pandemic a number of insurance companies have announced that their policies now include (or will soon offer) cover for virus related support whilst overseas - these include: AXA, Holiday Extras, Saga and The Post Office. ABTA Travel Sure, CoverForYou, CedarTree and Outbacker have announced that their policies will cover cancellation for Coronavirus (Covid-19) related events i.e. illness and self-isolation prior to travel in addition to the provision of overseas support. Please ensure that you carefully read the conditions and exclusions prior to purchase of any insurance.

Our guidance: FCDO travel advice

GIC The Villa Collection has always followed the travel advice of the UK government's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). Where issues of illness and infection are concerned, the FCDO usually mirrors the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

FCDO advice is frequently modified and adapted. To avoid jumping the gun, we wait until much closer to departure, and sometimes as little as 14 days, before following the FCDO advice that applies at that time.

Then, if the FCDO advises against ‘all but essential travel’ to a particular area, we will respond swiftly and individually to travellers who are about to be imminently affected. If we have travellers in these areas, we make great efforts to move them out. Travellers who have trips which are due to traverse or stay in these areas will be re-routed or have their trips deferred.

Policy:

  1. What happens if the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office advises against ‘all but essential travel’ to my holiday destination?
  2. What happens if my holiday destination requires me to quarantine on arrival into the country?
  3. What happens if I test positive, or display symptoms, for the Coronavirus (Covid-19) within 14 days of departure?
  4. What happens if I test positive on arrival or during my stay in my holiday destination?
  5. What happens if my hometown is placed under a localised lockdown by the UK government and I am restricted from travelling?
  6. What happens if the FCDO advice changes whilst I am on holiday?
  7. Can I defer my holiday?
  8. What are your cancellation fees?
  9. What can I do?
  10. What are the latest travel recommendations for the over 70s?
  11. Can I still book a holiday with you?
  12. What changes should I expect in my holiday destination?

1. What happens if the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office advise against ‘all but essential travel’ to my holiday destination?

The situation surrounding the Coronavirus (Covid-19) is fluid but rest assured that our operations team are keeping abreast of the latest advice. We are not virologists, but we are experts in our field and have tried and tested response measures in place.

Timeframe:

If the FCDO advises against ‘all but essential travel’ within 14 days of your departure, our team will contact you by telephone to discuss the options available to you (these are detailed below).

If the advice changes within 24 hours of your departure, our crisis team will contact you by telephone to discuss the revision of the government policy and the options available to you (these are detailed below). At the time of ticketing we will be requesting an emergency contact number – this season, more-so than ever, it is important that we hold this information for all travellers. If you will be staying at a different address the day before your flight, please ensure that this number is also provided.

Options:

  • Deferral of your holiday to a date later in the season or to travel in 2021, or to a new holiday destination. A revised quotation would be provided.
  • Accepting a fully bonded Refund Credit Note covering the money paid to date. The Refund Credit Note can be used against a new holiday for 2020 or 2021 when booked before 31 January 2021.
  • Requesting a cash refund for the value of the money paid to date. We would urge you firstly to consider a Refund Credit Note, which is fully financially protected, is refunded if unused and aids our cash flow in these difficult times for the company.

We have always treated our clients as individuals and this situation is no different.

2. What happens if my holiday destination requires me to quarantine on arrival in the country?

We fully appreciate that it would not be a ‘holiday’ if all travellers to a destination were required to self-isolate or quarantine on arrival. In this instance we would treat the situation as if it was a change to the advice issued by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and the aforementioned three options would apply: Deferral, Refund Credit Note or a cash refund.

3. What happens if I test positive for the Coronavirus (Covid-19) prior to departure?

It is important that we all work together to reduce the spread of the virus and protect other travellers and those who live and work in our destinations. If you or a member of your party test positive, or are displaying symptoms, for the Coronavirus (Covid-19) within 14 days of departure, you MUST declare this and accept that you are unable to travel on holiday. Members of your party who are not subject to the government’s quarantine rules are permitted to travel.

You should ensure that your travel insurance covers cancelled for reasons surrounding Covid-19. In this instance your policy authorise a claim of the full monies paid to us.

4. What happens if I test positive for the Coronavirus (Covid-19) on arrival or whilst on holiday?

Most countries have adopted randomised testing of passengers on arrival. In Greece, for example, those tested will be notified within 24 hours should the result return positive. In this instance travellers are required to quarantine, and we would work with you, and your travel insurer, to safely return you to the UK at the earliest possible opportunity.

Should you contract the Coronavirus (Covid-19) during your holiday, the same procedure would apply. If you are required to stay in the country longer than your scheduled return date to the UK, we would cover your accommodation costs for the first three nights; after this any applicable charges must be covered by yourself or your travel insurer.

5. What happens if my home town is placed on a localised lockdown by the UK government and I am restricted from travelling?

We are committed to offering a flexible approach to holidays post-lockdown, however actions by the UK government, such as localised lockdowns, are beyond our control. If you wish to cancel your holiday due to such an event, our standard cancellation terms and conditions would apply and you would be required to make a claim on your travel insurance*.

*You should ensure that your travel insurance covers cancellation for reasons surrounding Covid-19. In this instance your policy authorise a claim of the full monies paid to us.

6. What happens if the FCDO advice changes whilst I am on holiday?

If, like in the situation of Spain on Sunday 26 July, the FCDO advice changes whilst you are on holiday, we would return you to the UK as planned, unless an airlift is necessitated by the government.

The FCDO has advised against all but essential travel for Spain but also has introduced the need for all travellers to the country to quarantine for 14 days on return to the UK. Should you wish to return to the UK earlier than your scheduled departure – for personal reasons – we will, of course, work to facilitate this change for you at as little cost as possible. Any fees for airline changes are your responsibility and no refund is applicable for your curtailed accommodation and experiences – you should discuss any changes with your travel insurer.

7. Can I defer my holiday?

If you wish to defer your trip, outside of the aforementioned exceptions (points 1 and 2), then we will do our very best to make this possible for you but it may not always be possible without incurring cancellation fees.

Any requested deferrals will be taken on a case-by-case basis and revised quotations provided as per our terms and conditions. Any alteration requested within eight weeks of departure will be treated as a cancellation of the original holiday (attracting cancellation charges) and a new holiday booking made.

Outside of eight weeks of departure, deferrals are available as per our terms and conditions with administration fees applicable. Where a holiday is deferred from 2020 to 2021 an additional holiday deposit of £200 per person and any upfront airline charges are payable.

Please note that Early Booking Offers applicable to your original holiday cannot be carried across to your new reservation.

8. What are your cancellation terms?

Our cancellation charges are listed below:

GIC The Villa Collection:

  • 56 days or more before departure: Deposit only
  • 55-43 days before departure: 30%
  • 42-29 days before departure: 40%
  • 28-22 days before departure: 60%
  • 21-15 days before departure: 80%
  • 14 days or less before departure: 100%

Important note:

  • We reserve our right to pass on to you any cancellation charges imposed by our suppliers which are in excess of the cancellation charges set out above. In particular, any ‘bought-in flight element’ will be charged at 100% cancellation fees for the flight.

9. What can I do?

Travellers are advised to read the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office travel advice for the country they are travelling to, which includes a link through to the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) TravelHealthPro website that provides specific travel health advice for countries. You may also wish to familiarise yourself with the latest advice from the World Health Organisation.

10. What are the latest travel recommendations for those over 70 years of age?

ABTA’s guidance regarding customers over 70 years of age, and/or with a medical condition, is that the Government advice against travel relates to the capacity of the individual to travel, not to the deliverability of the arrangements, and therefore does not give rise to a right to refund.

11. Can I still book a holiday with you?

Yes. our villa specialists are on the end of the phone to help design your perfect break. You can even save up to 40% on selected Greece holidays and our 2021 trips are now on sale.

12. What changes/measures have been adopted within my holiday destination and how will they affect my holiday?

We are in the process of compiling factsheets for our holiday destinations detailing the local measures in place to manage the Coronavirus (Covid-19). These factsheets contact our latest understanding and will be updated frequently. We will add further destinations in due course.