To add to the ever changing situation with Coronavirus and what is happening to our upcoming tours, we have put together a new Q&A to give you an update on how things stand at the moment (updated 22/5/2020).
Our last tour to run was our Socotra Highlights tour that finished on the 18th March. All of the rest of our tours and through to 18th July have now been cancelled.
The logistics behind cancelling our tours are generally complicated and time consuming; just as setting up the tour is in the first place. Once we have finished this process we then have to deal with a large amount of email and phone enquiries, refunds, insurance letters etc. The most efficient way for us to be able to work through this difficult period is to go through each tour separately, before we move on to deciding which we need to cancel next. Rest assured, if it’s unsafe to visit one of our destinations or border restrictions make it not possible, we will certainly get around to cancelling the tour, arranging deposit/balance transfers and providing refunds. We are currently in the process of looking into our late July and early August tours and decisions will be made in the coming days and weeks.
At the moment we can only concentrate on tours that are coming up in the next few weeks. It is impossible for us to know how things are going to progress over the coming weeks and months, so for the time being we can only deal with postponements and cancellations for the time period where we know it’s not possible to travel. We understand this can be frustrating but we appreciate your patience at this difficult time. And please rest assured that we will certainly allow postponement or cancellations when the time is appropriate.
At this time it’s impossible for us to say. We will do our best to keep all of our future tours running, but the situation at the moment is too uncertain to predict.
For anyone booked on tours departing from 18th July to 31st December 2020, the trips are still currently scheduled to go ahead so our standard T&C’s are still in place for these tours, however we are now offering the additional flexibility of switching your deposits to a later tour at no extra cost if you prefer. It is also possible to remain booked onto these tours until the situation is more clear. We may extend this policy to later tours as the weeks progress.
If we cancel your tour, it will be highly likely your airline will also be cancelling your flights. In this case you will get a full refund from your airline or travel agent. If not then we will provide you with documentation which should enable you to claim on your insurance. Your insurance should also pay out for other costs incurred, such as visas.
Once we have cancelled your tour, we will email you and advise you of this and give you three options for your balance that you have with us.
It is a huge help to us if you decide to keep your balance or deposit with us towards a future tour. This helps us to reassure the people we work with in some very remote places around the globe. It’s a tough time for us now, but it’s even worse for them. Many of the people we work with only have one tour per year – and that comes through Lupine. The money that is brought in through our tours is incredible helpful for them and their communities and can last them for months.
Secondly it is expensive for us to issue mass refunds. On top of bank charges, the entire travel industry has been hit by PayPal changing their terms and conditions. We now have to pay back PayPal fees on our refunds that come through their system, which amounts to almost 3%. This might not sound like a lot but when we are issuing refunds for hundreds of people, the figures start to add up. The less refunds we need to make, the more chance we have of keeping our prices lower in the future.
However, we do understand that this is a great period of uncertainty for everyone at the moment and some of you may be at risk of losing your jobs. Therefore it is not an issue at all if you prefer a full refund.
Any money paid to Lupine is 100% safe and guaranteed through our Financial Failure Insurance. Each time we take a payment from someone booking on a tour, we register the booking with our insurers and pay an individual fee. Everyone who makes a booking with us is sent a copy of our FFI document. You can read more about it here: https://lupinetravel.co.uk/financial-protection-insurance/
We are also an ABTA member as of May 2020.
We certainly will! Due to the fact we deal with such high risk destinations, it means we have extra precautions built into our business model to allow us to survive situations such as this. We have been through a similar situation before back in 2014 when the Ebola outbreak led to the closure of our biggest selling trip; North Korea. The experience from this also enabled us to make better preparations for the future.
As well as dealing with tour cancellations, we are now preparing even more for what we expect will be a busy 2021, once things return to normal. We have just launched tours to Mali and Guinea/Guinea Bissau and over the coming weeks we will be launching new trips for 2021 to Equatorial Guinea/Gabon, Greenland, Saudi Arabia and a Pacific Islands tour.