The travel industry is taking a major hit as the coronovirus spreads around the globe. From travel advisories to mandatory quarantines, the virus is sparking many reasons for people to cancel or change their travel plans.
“In September we purchased our airline tickets for this trip,” Ron and Lex DeWit said.
The Sioux Falls couple was supposed to leave for a two and a half week guided tour of the middle east Saturday.
“A dream trip for me,” Ron DeWit said. “Really taking the path of the Israelites leaving Egypt to the promise land in Canaan.”
But last week they got a call from their tour company that the trip was cancelled because of the coronavirus.
“Their biggest concern of course was if we get there, the government, whether it be Egypt, Jordan or Israel, could place us under quarantine or whatever else might occur with that,” DeWit said.
“Most of the concern and most of the cancellations are happening not because they don’t want to travel but because they don’t want to get stuck somewhere,” Lorie Buus with All About Travel said. “Most people cannot be gone from their job for another 14 days.”
For the past few weeks, Lorie Buus with All About Travel has dealt with calls for cancellations, rescheduling or other concerned travel questions.
“I’ve been doing this for 20 years and I don’t ever remember dealing with an epidemic, at all, this is uncharted territory for the travel industry,” Buus said.
Buus says airlines, tours and cruises are adjusting their cancellations policies on a daily basis.
“I have seen the most lenient cancel policies that I’ve seen ever,” Buus said. “Many companies are allowing them to change without any change penalty, they’re allowing them to cancel and hold a future credit. They’re providing ways for them to at least hold onto at least some of their investment in their trip.”
“If we would not have had travel insurance, can you imagine your dream trip, paying for it, but not going on it?” DeWit said.
The Dewits say because their tour company chose to cancel the trip, their travel insurance is covering most of the cost of this last minute change.
“This trip looks like its going to be rescheduled to the beginning of October, middle of November,” DeWit said.
While the new dates will work for the DeWits, it falls right in the middle of harvest for their friends who were planning to go on the trip with them. Even though they won’t be able to reschedule, they should get reimbursed for most of their trip because they didn’t chose to cancel it themselves.
Buus says every travel insurance company is different, but many are not covering a canceled trip if the travelers chooses to cancel based on coronavirus concerns. But if an event, flight or travel ban cancels a trip, travelers should be able to get reimbursed for most of it. But with the continuous changes right now, Buus says many companies are working with travelers, even if they don’t have travel insurance.
“The majority of the companies that we work with, in particular airlines, if you book by a certain day, you can cancel with no fees. That’s the case with most things right now. Even if you booked last year, they’re allowing very lenient cancellation policies,” Buus said.
What travel insurance or travel companies will not cover is lost time at work due to a quarantine, Buus said. That’s a risk many travelers are facing around the world right now.
“There’s so much uncertainty right now,” Buus said.