IMPORTANT UPDATE - CORONAVIRUS
No doubt many of you have been faced with the challenges of client enquiries around the Coronavirus and we know just how difficult these times and questions can be for you and your staff. AFTA has itself received calls from members and consumers seeking advice and looking to find out what options can be considered for planned travel to or even transiting through China in the coming weeks and months.
AFTA is highly engaged with the various Federal Government agencies as they seek to do what they feel is in the best interests of Australians and the country. There has been many teleconference calls and liaison sessions and this will continue as the situation of the spread of the virus and the risk assessments are analysed by government agencies. It is very difficult to give any advice as to a timeline at this stage.
It is a difficult situation – nobody wants to see this spread, clearly nobody wants any more deaths and we definitely want to minimise any risk to Australian Travellers.
All that said, I know that you and your teams are well experienced in dealing with drama and challenges, however we offer our members some general advice below.
If you have any specific concerns or questions, the AFTA team is at your service and on alert to assist.
General Advisory Notice:
- Monitor the latest travel advice from DFAT: https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/destinations/asia/china. The current status as at 12noon 30th January was at Level 3 – Reconsider your need to travel to China.
This means that people may still travel to China and that the decision to go or not to go sits with the individual themselves. For travellers who may be in transit with onward connections, there is a very low risk the airways between the two countries remain open and flights are operating in both directions. It is a personal choice which should be made by the traveller.
- If insurance is to be relied upon for any cancellation fees to be covered, ENSURE that the terms and conditions are confirmed with the issuing company before taking any action on the clients behalf. It is not possible to issue a standard advisory on any travel insurance as each policy issued and each insurer may have different terms and conditions or rules. CHECK FIRST – ACT SECOND.
- Suppliers are NOT required by law to waive cancellation fees, this is completely at their discretion. As is the case usually in times of challenges, most suppliers are open to credit transfers, date changes and alterations without fees – but we stress this needs to be checked before making changes. Some suppliers may also be willing to refund – again CHECK FIRST – ACT SECOND.
- Ensure that the cancellations arrangements are well explained to the client before taking action. We recommend you advise your client via EMAIL and request a written reply. We know that this is not always easy to do, but it is best to get the agreement in a written form, unless you have a voice recorder on your phone system – which is not always possible for all members.
- You can keep up-to-date with the latest news on the Coronavirus from the Australian Government’s Department of Health, including updated health warnings at: https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov