Read our Peace of Mind Promise for 2021 here

Passport Passport

A throw-away comment by a government minister on Tuesday has caused ripples across the travel industry, both in the UK and overseas. You will no doubt be familiar with the statement I am referring to, that of Grant Shapps that said: “please don’t go ahead and book holidays for something, which, at this stage, is illegal to actually go and do, whether it’s here or abroad”. It has been a front-page story and has been covered on all news cycles ever since.

Unfortunately, what is lacking from much of the coverage is commonsensical clarity. Confusion and hearsay not only cloud the facts but also have far-reaching ramifications for all organisations within tourism, many of which have survived on next-to-no income since the pandemic began.

In the 50 years since Sunvil was founded, I have seen the industry overcome many difficulties. However, none can hold a candle to the existential crisis we now face. With the inability to trade, the lack of sector-specific support and such contradictory advice, it is fair to say that the industry of the future will be unrecognisable to that of the past. I am sure the government considers us to be expendable, along with the many jobs we provide both in the UK and abroad.

Below I would like to provide answers to some of the most pressing questions.

Can I book a holiday?

Of course you can. 

The UK is currently in lockdown and restrictions are in place covering social interaction, education, work and travel. International travel is currently illegal, unless for a permitted reason and holiday travel is not one of those. Many destination countries have also imposed their own restrictions, and some have closed their borders to non-residents. Our overseas partners are, like the UK, battening down their countries in order to minimise infections so that they can open for the summer season.

On 22 February it is expected that Boris Johnson will detail his roadmap to the easing of these measures.

No-one in the travel industry is suggesting that you book a holiday in the UK or abroad for imminent travel. What is permitted, however, is to book a holiday for the coming summer and winter season and beyond. Holidays for 2021, 2022 and 2023 (for selected destinations) are on sale. We all deserve something to look forward to and to want to enjoy life is not illegal. Having had a vaccination to protect us from the virus we are also all entitled to start living again and, by May of this year, 70% of the UK population will have been vaccinated.

What if I book a holiday and the restrictions remain in place on my date of departure?

A package holiday booked with an ATOL bonded tour operator provides full financial protection in the event that your trip cannot be fulfilled. This requisite is complemented by ABTA’s Code of Conduct which requires operators to offer their travellers a refund should the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office advise* against travel to your chosen destination.

Many travel companies have introduced flexible booking policies to provide reassurance to their travellers.

At Sunvil, we have introduced our Peace of Mind Promise for 2021 and have strengthened our tried and tested Coronavirus policy. This means that you can change or defer your holiday with no administration fees from ourselves up to ten weeks prior to departure. Within ten weeks of travel changes can still be made and you can trust that, whatever happens, you will be looked after, and not left badly out of pocket or without assistance.

You can read the reviews of those who placed their travel plans in our hands in 2020. We recently received Feefo's Platinum Trusted Service Award on the back of the feedback of our travellers last year.

* It is important to stress that whilst overseas travel is currently illegal, this is not a normal state of affairs. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office normally only ‘advise’ against travel, a recommendation that is not bound by law. It is also important to note that this advice (FCDO) was historically designed to deal with matters such as civil unrest and environmental events and not a global pandemic.

When do you think that overseas travel may resume?

As with holidays in the UK, there is no definite start date for overseas travel. Many hurdles must be overcome before this day, but from my discussions with our destination partners it is clear that steps are being taken to reduce their domestic rates of infection, to mitigate the spread of the virus and to introduce protocols to safeguard the wellbeing of citizens and visitors so that holidays can commence in the spring.

Communication between EU countries is taking place and the hope is for the establishment of a continent-wide plan for travel and, we hope, a Covid-19 immunisation certificate.

Much will change between now and spring – vaccinations will have been administered, testing mechanisms enhanced and global learnings shared. For this reason we believe that destinations will start reopening for leisure travellers in May, with the number of countries open to us increasing throughout the summer months.

At Sunvil, we will be closely monitoring the situation and will be making changes to our policies, if required. We promise to provide honest advice backed up by an in-depth destination knowledge and a human voice at the end of the phone.

Will I need to stay in a quarantine hotel?

In our opinion it is not a holiday if you are required to quarantine either in your holiday destination or on your return to the UK. 

It is our feeling that the use of quarantine hotels will be a short-term requirement. Currently UK hotel quarantines only apply to countries classified as 'red' by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. If your destination falls into this category, our Coronavirus policy would come into play. The same policy would apply if your destination introduced quarantine on arrival for travellers.

It would be remiss if we did not mention that, in 2020, some destinations introduced the need for travellers to quarantine, in a specified hotel, if they tested positive whilst in resort - we will, of course, notify you if your chosen destination adopts this protocol. 

What about the need to test pre, during and post holidays?

What is in place today is unlikely to be applicable for travel in late spring. We will be taking these rules into account c.4 weeks prior to departure and notifying our travellers accordingly.

We also need to consider any new developments in tests. The availability of tests is improving by the day, not to mention the rollout of vaccinations.

Important tips

  • Book your package holiday with an ATOL and ABTA bonded operator, such as Sunvil
  • Look for flexible booking policies
  • Book your travel insurance as soon as your holiday has been confirmed and remember that once you have been vaccinated, the likelihood of your needing treatment for Covid abroad or in the UK drops considerably. Insurance to cover Covid is therefore not such an issue.
  • Discuss your concerns with your travel expert. We are always here to help.

 

2022 holidays now on sale

Noel Josephides

By Noel Josephides

12th February 2021



Noel Josephides
Noel Josephides

Noel is Sunvil’s Chairman. Born in Cyprus in 1948, he joined John der Parthog at Sunvil in 1973. Before that and following university, he spent 3 years as a trainee buyer at C&A Modes and then worked for a large Cypriot builder and property developer for whom he set up a London Office buying electrical components for the Middle East and importing lemons from orchards in Cyprus. He still researches new destinations for Sunvil and is heavily involved in matters relating to the travel industry. He is a previous chairman of ABTA, a long standing director and previous chairman of The Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) and the current chairman of The Travel Foundation - the travel industry’s sustainability charity.

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We promise that a member of our specialist reservation teams will reply personally to your holiday enquiry before 5.30pm if received before 12.00pm (Monday to Friday). Enquiries received after 12.00pm will be replied to within 24-hours (excluding Sundays).

If your enquiry is of an urgent nature, please telephone our dedicated reservation teams on the numbers listed below.

Our lines are open from 9.00am to 5.30pm Monday-Friday and from 9.30am to 4.30pm Saturday.

  • Greece: 020 8758 4758
  • Cyprus: 020 8758 4759
  • Portugal, the Azores, Spain, Italy, Sicily and Scandinavia: 020 8758 4722
  • Latin America: 020 8758 4774
  • Marketing: 020 8758 4731

Required Information

* Mandatory Information
Title *
First name *
Surname *
Telephone number *
Alternative telephone number
Email address *
Confirm email address
Preferred method of communication *
If you would like to be called during a specific period, please specify
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Thank you for your enquiry. A member of our specialist reservation teams will be in touch shortly.

If your enquiry is of an urgent nature, please telephone our dedicated reservation teams on the numbers listed below.

Our lines are open from 9.00am to 5.30pm Monday-Friday and from 9.30am to 4.30pm Saturday.

  • Greece: 020 8758 4758
  • Cyprus: 020 8758 4759
  • Portugal, the Azores, Italy, Sicily and Scandinavia: 020 8758 4722
  • Latin America: 020 8758 4774

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We understand that so much choice can be overwhelming which is why we have developed 'My Suitcase'. This facility allows you to save and compare your favourite holidays, and even allows you to return to your selection at a later stage.

Why not use 'My Suitcase' to compile a wish list of your future Sunvil holidays?

 

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