Thinking of booking a swimming holiday FOR THIS YEAR OR FOR 2021?
From quarantine rules to travel insurance … we answer your questions on when and how to book your next SwimQuest Holiday.
If like us, you are dreaming of the moment when you can plunge into the big blue sea … we thought we would share with you our plans for the rest of the year and for 2021, and answer some of the common questions many of you are asking about booking travel at the moment. Of course, the situation is still changing rapidly – and although this information is correct at the time of print, feel free to contact us with any questions before booking (email@example.com) as government guidelines may change.
It is very difficult to believe that just over three months ago, we were sitting around a table in Norfolk on our annual SwimQuest Guide Weekend, making plans, brushing up on safety skills and celebrating our brand-new Feefo Platinum Trusted Service Award. We were so excited to get stuck into the season, and as we clinked our glasses and toasted the year ahead, little did we know what 2020 would really have in store.
On March 5th, we landed at Heathrow having run our inaugural tour in the Exuma Islands of the Bahamas. We had an incredible week with a wonderful group – swimming amidst the Exumas’ lazer-white sandbars and tropical lagoons, and lazing away in the most incredible private villa, overlooking the famous Tropic of Cancer beach. We landed with a bang, and quickly realised that the Covid-19 situation unfolding would mean we had to make major changes to the business for this year.
What we hadn’t necessarily counted on was the INCREDIBLE support we started to receive from SwimQuest guests (THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH), our amazing suppliers and partners abroad, not to mention our bunch of award-winning guides. A big shout out to our Operations Director Charlie Beere too, who has kept the ship afloat and seamlessly helped with the numerous changes and cancellations over the past few months. It really feels as if we are all in this together; a true testament to the relationships and trust we have created as a business.
To help you to start planning your next adventure with us, here are some of the most common questions we are being asked at the moment …
What trips do you have on sale for this year?
On the 17th March 2020, the UK FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) advised against all non-essential international travel. As such, we made the difficut decision to cancel all our SwimQuest tours up until the end of August 2020.
From 4 July, however, this advice has be removed for 50 destinations, which the government now deems safe enough to travel to. (We are pleased to say that all our destinations for 2020 have now been published on the Government travel corridor list). As such, we are delighted to be taking bookings for September 2020 onwards, and have a number of trips on sale, including Greece, Croatia, and Formentera in September and October.
We also have a number of UK tours on sale, from September onwards.
Check out our trips and dates at www.swimquest.uk.com/calendar
I WOULD RATHER TRAVEL WITHIN THE UK THIS YEAR, what UK trips do you have on sale?
Although we are hoping to be able to travel abroad by September, we do indeed have some fantastic UK trips for you! Check out our Isles of Scilly trip (12-18 September 2020), our Best of Jersey Weekend (25-28 September 2020), our River Arun swims (19 & 20 September 2020), and of course, our famous Christmas themed weekends in Scotland (27-30 November & 4-7 December 2020).
And, you don’t have to worry – if for any reason these trips cannot take place because of Coronavirus, your booking is still protected as it would be if you were booking any of our international trips.
Is my money at risk if I book a trip?
No. You can book with SwimQuest in complete confidence.
In terms of the money you have spent with SwimQuest, there is no risk. If we have to cancel your trip due to Coronavirus, we will offer you the chance to move your booking to another trip, receive a SwimQuest refund credit note for use in 2020 or 2021, or – if you do need a refund, we will process one in line with The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018. We do ask guests to use a credit note or move their booking if they possibly can (a massive thank you to everyone who has done this – we won’t forget it!), however we understand that these are unprecedented times, and that in some cases guests will require a refund instead. If you decide to cancel your booking, our usual terms and conditions will apply.
SwimQuest is also a member of ABTOT. ABTOT is the Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust, and provides financial protection for customers in the unlikely event that SwimQuest needed to close.
Finally (and we would hope you will agree!) SwimQuest has been recognised for our outstanding customer service from The British Travel Awards, from Everywoman and from Feefo. We are extremely proud of this fact. Only this year, we were awarded Feefo’s highest customer service accolade – the Platinum Customer Service Award, in recognition of our outstanding service standards.
We fully intend to live up to these high standards and continue to provide incredible, trustworthy service that you can rely on.
What is a bonded tour operator and why is this important?
When booking a holiday, it is highly advisable to book through a bonded tour operator. Under The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018, all travel operators selling more than two elements of travel (e.g. accommodation, food, transport, services) are required by UK law to protect any customer prepayments in the event of their insolvency and to have a scheme to repatriate customers who may be abroad. We meet both of these requirements through our ABTOT Membership. As such, booking a package is effectively the safest type of holiday booking you can make right now.
You can check to see if a business has ABTOT membership here.
(SwimQuest’s membership number is 5408)
It is important to note that for customers who have already postponed or rebooked their travel arrangements or have received a SwimQuest refund credit note, your holiday booking or refund credit note is still financially protected by ABTOT.
I have decided to book a SwimQuest trip, should I book my flights yet?
The Which Consumer Group advises: “Only book a flight for later this year if the date of the ticket can be moved, it’s with a UK/EU airline or from a UK/EU airport and you’re covered by your travel insurer if the airline goes bust.” This being said, many airlines are now offering flexible booking terms, so it is worth checking with your preferred airline as you may get a good deal – easyJet for example have announced that they are offering the ability to “book now and change your flight for free up to 14 days before departure”.
Can I, and should I get travel insurance for travel this year or in 2021?
At present, most insurance companies will not now sell insurance to cover against travel issues caused by coronavirus, as it is now a “known event”.
However, insurers will generally only pay you for costs which could not be refunded by your tour operator in the event of a holiday being cancelled because of Coronovirus. As such, if you booked a SwimQuest holiday which had to be cancelled because of Coronavirus, you would not need to claim your SwimQuest Holiday price back from your travel insurance provider as SwimQuest would be able to issue you with a refund credit note / refund, and your flight provider (if you had booked your flights) should do the same.
It is useful to be aware that currently, there are only a few travel policies covering Medical Expenses & Repatriation following Covid-19, although now the UK FCO travel advice has changed, it is expected that more policies will provide this cover. Also, there are currently no policies we are aware of that provide cover for cancellation due to Coronavirus, or cover for “track-and-trace” isolation requirements.
This article by the Which Consumer Group provides some useful details about purchasing travel insurance at the moment.
Despite these insurance limitations we would always advise purchasing travel insurance at the same time as booking your holiday. This means that if something happens after you book, but before you go on holiday, you can claim from your travel insurance provider. It is important to note that our usual cancellation terms still apply if you decide not to travel, and are detailed below:
- with more than twelve month’s notice: SwimQuest will return all monies paid
- with 56 days up to twelve month’s notice: SwimQuest will retain deposit payment
- with 19-55 days notice: SwimQuest will retain 70% of total holiday price for each person in the group who cancels
- with 0-18 days notice: SwimQuest will retain 100% of total price for each person in the group who cancels. NOTE “total price” means the total price payable by each person for the holiday (including any supplements paid)
This means if you decide to cancel a trip (e.g. if you are ill, if you have personal reasons for not attending) we would advise you to claim from your travel insurance provider, as we would not be able to grant a refund in these circumstances.
I am worried I’m not going to be fit enough to swim! Can I still come on a SwimQuest Holiday?
We pride ourselves on providing swimming holidays for all ability levels. You can swim as much or as little as you like, it’s your holiday! Don’t worry about pace either, our guides are experts at ensuring that you feel comfortable and looked after, whether you are a speed-demon or someone who prefers to breaststroke and take in the scenery. Don’t forget to take advantage of our coaching too – guides are happy to provide extra one-to-one coaching in breaks between swimming, eating and sleeping!
I still have questions, who can I talk to?
If you have any questions at all, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, who can help you.