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What Are The Fees? Advice For Tour Operators & Travellers 

Since the beginning of this global health crisis, the travel industry has been severely wounded. The United Nations predicts(opens in a new tab) ‘the world’s tourism sector could lose at least $1.2 trillion, or 1.5% of the global gross domestic product (GDP).’

Travel began to shut down in March 2020 and worries began shortly after with the realisation of the financial devastation that these travel restrictions will have on the global economy. In March, most major airlines were relatively happy to waive change and cancellation fees, even if it was a fight for some customers to retrieve money from their tightly clenched jaws.

It’s safe to say that the world has changed, with coronavirus restrictions changing the way we work, shop, interact with others, and travel(opens in a new tab). These changes don’t come without consequence, however, and most tour operators, big and small, have had to adapt their business to; 1. meet the requirements set by various government agencies and 2. ensure safety while providing the best possible service.

Tourism business owners have been devastated by this pandemic. So with funds running out, the positive signs of the reopenings gave many operators a moment for a sigh of relief, while they began preparing for the return. But with money reservations low and no guarantee of clients being able to show up; whether that would be because of airlines, domestic travel restrictions, or health reasons—tour operators needed a safety net. And in steps the coronavirus travel fee.

To introduce extra fees when the costs of running have gotten higher is a logical step. Some restaurants have introduced a surplus charge on bills while cleaning and safety products alone cost extra and someone needs to pay for it.

The issue with these extra costs is that they are not always clearly displayed, and in some cases, not honest. It’s paramount that the customer knows exactly what the terms and conditions are before sitting down at a restaurant or clicking ‘buy now’.

For customers: It is very important that from now on, travellers read and understand what the policies regarding cancellation are before booking or making a reservation. If there are none visible, ask. Also, make sure to scan the fine print of whatever it is that you are buying for hidden fees and “act of god” contractual clauses, as what we are now living truly feels like divine intervention.

For tour operators: Make clear your cancellation policies and Corona fees. Don’t bury or hide them, it makes you look dishonest and will, in turn, generate distrust between your business and the customer. If you’re struggling to create them, take a moment and look online at other tour providers, ask other owners and/or read about adjusting your cancellation policy(opens in a new tab) here.

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