Lib Dems urges government to line up ‘confusing’ travel advice and guarantee reimbursement for Orange List vacationers
The government should ensure that Britons who are struggling to get reimbursements for Amber List vacations due to “confusion” over its travel advice get compensation, a MP said.
In a letter to Foreign Minister Dominic Raab, shared with ILiberal Democrats foreign spokesperson Layla Moran urges the government to align its traffic light system with Foreign Office travel advice.
Ms Moran, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, told Mr Raab that the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic is ‘undermined’ by the current ‘mixed messages’ and is leaving holidaymakers out out of pocket, which is “not fair”.
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Last week I reported that conflicting advice from the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the government traffic light system leaves many families struggling to get their money back from holiday agencies for trips to Amber List destinations that ‘they can no longer afford.
Currently, FCDO advises against all but essential travel to Greece and Spain, but exempts the Canary Islands and the Greek islands of Rhodes, Kos, Zakynthos, Corfu and Crete. If the same advice applied to the islands, the vacation companies would cancel and refund.
The FCDO also does not recommend all but essential travel to Portugal, even though it is now on the orange list.
Ms Moran writes in the letter: “The reason refunds are not available is that the FCDO’s travel advice is in many cases not updated to match that of the Department of Transportation. [advice].
“Travel insurance generally relies on advice from the FCDO, not on the Department of Transportation’s traffic light system. If vacationers can’t get a refund, then they have to choose between losing their money or going ahead and going to a place with high Covid-19 rates. This puts them in an unenviable position and undermines the government’s response to Covid-19.
“The effectiveness of the ‘traffic light’ system is hampered by another department. Hope you can understand how extremely frustrating this situation is for vacationers.
She continues: “The mixed messages on travel are confusing. It is extremely important that the government’s guidelines on Covid-19 are coordinated and clear. In this case, that means aligning the Department of Transport and FCDO guidelines, so that any country that moves to the Amber or Red List is accordingly subject to the FCDO’s “do not travel” advisory.
“There is also a real risk that vacationers who have been caught off guard by this change will be disbursed. This is not correct. Since this situation is not their fault, but the basis of a government decision, there is a legitimate case to compensate those who are not able to get a refund. “
Melissa and Ian Biggs Said I last week, how On the Beach denied them a refund of £ 4,500 for a canceled holiday in Tenerife that was booked for July this year. However, after I intervened, the travel agency did an about-face and agreed to reimburse the money within two weeks.
This week Anna Webb and her fiance Aled Williams claimed that the operator TUI was denying them a refund of more than £ 8,000 for a honeymoon in Crete which was canceled due to last year’s pandemic and is due now take place on August 1st. With the current uncertainty about travel, they no longer want to leave.
Mrs. Moran said I: “It is just not fair for vacationers to expect them to pay when the government got its guidelines in a mess. This is a mess on the part of the government, so it needs to do the right thing and make sure vacationers get the compensation they deserve, working with insurers where necessary. Going forward, there must be alignment between the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Transport to end this confusion, which leaves vacationers out of pocket and undermines the response of Covid-19. “
The Foreign Ministry has previously said its travel advice was based on different criteria than the Department of Transport’s (DfT) traffic light system, assessing several factors, including terrorism.
The FCDO and the Department of Transportation have been approached for comment.