Statement regarding COVID-19
27th March 2020
COVID-19 – Coronavirus
Worldwide concern about Coronavirus continues to grow, the financial markets are currently in a state of turmoil, and Governments around the world are taking unprecedented measures to close borders or imposing 14 day quarantine periods, effectively making international travel extremely difficult or in some cases impossible. The situation is changing on a daily basis and it is uncertain how long the crisis will last or what other measures may be implemented. Furthermore, the Australian Government recently raised their Travel Advice to “Crisis” – advising a travel ban is now in place for all Australians.
African Wildlife Safaris & Natural Focus have been in business since 1985 and we are proud of our professionalism and integrity. We feel a strong sense of responsibility to our clients, agents, our staff, suppliers and the communities who rely on us and on travel and tourism in general. We also have deep concerns and commitments about the environment and the wildlife and wilderness that is sustained by travel and tourism, particularly in developing countries like in Africa, South America and India.
As a travel company that prides itself on designing wonderful holidays for our clients, we are obviously extremely disappointed that your travel plans have been or may be disrupted by Covid-19 and by the new laws and controls implemented by the Australian and other governments around the world. However we wish to assure you as our valued clients that we are doing everything to work through these problems as they unfold. You can be assured of our best intentions at all times.
Our cancellation conditions are not just to protect us as a viable business with responsibilities to our own staff, but they take into account the conditions of the various suppliers, many of whom are small to medium businesses/lodge owners or small cruise companies. Most of our suppliers are also heavily involved both with local conservation projects and support their local communities. This is particularly true of African safari lodges and camps which play a vital role in the ongoing viability of wildlife parks and reserves and the local communities that rely on them. Without some reward from safari tourism some locals may revert to poaching or taking back wildlife concessions for farming. Already almost all the large iconic mammals such as lion, elephant, rhino and giraffe, to mention just a few, are endangered and this crisis will make the situation more dire and perhaps threaten their very existence.
Booking & Cancellation Conditions
Overall we work with several hundred suppliers worldwide. Given all our itineraries are custom-designed to suit individual clients, some of our bookings can use as many as 8 or 9 different suppliers. We cannot make unilateral decisions about cancellations and deferments because we have to contact every supplier used in your particular booking before we can assess the impact on your trip, and not every supplier is amending their conditions and those that are may impose vastly differing conditions.
Consequently it is important that you understand that prima facie, there is no change to our policies and our Booking & Cancellation Conditions remain the same.
Our standard Conditions can be found on our website at: https://www.africanwildlifesafaris.com.au/travel-tools/reservation-forms/. Generally if you cancel your travel arrangements loss of deposit is applicable if you cancel more than 60 days in advance. For some destinations this can be 70 days, and up to 120 days from some cruises.
As we do with any cancellation, we will always attempt to mitigate losses, and therefore will discuss any cancellation with the various suppliers involved before being in a position to respond to a cancellation request. Given the high volume of cancellation requests around the world, a response may take longer than normal and we ask for your patience whilst we gather all the information.
Deferment of Travel
As stated above, with any cancellation, including deferment, we will attempt to mitigate losses. Many of our suppliers are offering some type of deferment, but their terms may differ. Generally any deferment will require travel by a certain date, rates will be as per the applicable pricing at the time and revised quotations will be based on applicable exchange rates at the time of re-quoting. Generally a second deferment will not be allowed.
We will still need to go through the same process of discussing deferment with each of the suppliers concerned before we can respond appropriately.
How soon is your departure?
If you are not travelling for 5-6 months or more our recommendation is that you adopt a “wait and see” policy. The situation with COVID-19 changes on a daily basis so it is impossible to predict when the virus may end or how it may progress. We believe it is not critical to make a decision now, but by all means contact us if you require further information.
If you were due to travel imminently or are scheduled to travel within the next 2 months then please contact us to discuss options.
However, please note that our suppliers are treating cancellations on a priority basis. Their primary concern is for clients already in their respective countries who may be subject to quarantining, unable to travel because of other restrictions such as flight cancellations or are trying to return home before Governments restrict travel even further.
Therefore please appreciate that someone wishing to defer their travel that is due to depart in 5 or 6 months will not be given a high priority.
Many airlines are offering re-booking for ticketed airfares, but as yet none of the airlines have provided us with clear guidelines for how to process deferred travel without definite dates for Agent ticketed airfares. At this point all most every airline is no longer providing refunds, and only offering a credit for future travel, even if your original ticket conditions allowed for a refund. We expect it to be some time before the airlines will be in a position to advise us fully and in most cases we will just have to wait for their final policy on deferred travel.
As a Company we are not permitted to offer advice regarding Travel Insurance. You should contact your Travel Insurance provider for advice.
Smart traveller Advice
A Travel Ban Is Now in Place for All Australians
Effective Wednesday 25th March, the Australian Government amended their Travel Advice to a blanket “A Travel ban Is now in place for all Australians.”
Other Governments around the world have implemented various plans for quarantining after entry into their country and some have closed borders completely, generally for about 30 days.