Foreign Office advises against travel
The Foreign Office is now advising Britons against all non-essential travel for an initial period of 30 days, from March 17, to tackle the spread of coronavirus.
This means the cancellation or postponement of all overseas holidays or leisure trips abroad, which are not usually considered “essential”.
If you are in any doubt as to what this means for your trip contact your tour operator, travel agent or airline.
Over the past week the spread of coronavirus has hit skiers and snowboarders planning their ski holidays in the mountains of Europe hard.
Italy三级成人视频 - a key destination for skiers and snowboarders - has become the European epicentre for the coronavirus, with the world's second highest number of cases.
Following the announcement that the entire country is now in lockdown to control the spread of the virus, all ski resorts in the country have been closed for the winter, nearly two months ahead of schedule. The FCO now advises against all but essential travel to Italy.
Following suit, all major Austrian ski resorts will close for the rest of the winter. Ski lifts in resorts in the provinces of Tirol, Salzburg and Vorarlberg will operate for the final time on March 15, following this all accomodation, including hotels and apartments, will close from March 16. This includes resorts such as Kitzbuhel, Saalbach, Solden, Mayrhofen, Obergurgl and St Anton.
Swiss resorts have also announced they are to closed, after the government brought in strict new measures to curb the spread of the virus. Verbier and Zermatt will be closing today (March 13), while resorts in the canton of Graubünden, including St Moritz and Davos Klosters, will close on Sunday evening.
It has also been announced that a number of ski resorts in Norway, including the two major destinations for British skiers and snowboarders Hemsedal or Trysil, are now closed for a two week period, which is likely to be extended, because of fears of the virus spreading. All resorts in Andorra are also closing.
This has forced operators to cancel upcoming holidays and embark on rescue missions to bring home British guests.
Following the drastic measures taken in Italy, Austria, Switzerland and Norway tour operators are also beginning to review their trips to other Alpine countries. Crystal Ski Holidays has announced it is cancelling all ski holidays to three major French ski resorts that sit on the border with Italy.
Several ski festivals, including Snowbombing, the largest in the Alps, Tomorrowland, which is held in the French resort of Alpe d’Huez, Rock The Piste festival, which spans the French-Swiss border and attracts 28,000 people to over 50 concerts on the slopes and Snowboxx, a week-long festival held in the French resort of Avoriaz, have been forced to cancel or amend their schedules at late notice.
This comes as the French Government has decided to take ‘drastic measures’ to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Authorities are enforcing the cancellation of large events, which attract crowds of over 1,000 and bring together people from different nationalities. Austrian authorities have adopted similar measures, banning outdoor events of over 500 people.
The impact of coronavirus on ski resorts first hit the headlines at the beginning of February, when five British people were diagnosed with the virus after being infected during a skiing holiday in the French resort of Contamines Montjoie.
At the end of February children and staff at British schools which had just returned from ski trips in the northern Lombardy region of Italy were told to self isolate and the schools closed.
三级成人视频It has raised questions among skiers and snowboarders as to whether resorts are at risk of going into lockdown and if more events will be cancelled as the virus continues to spread.
三级成人视频Operators and agents have reported a rise in people contacting them about cancelling their existing bookings, while the rate of new bookings has significantly slowed down as travellers become more nervous about travelling.
With peak ski festival season about to get underway, the Easter school holidays, a popular time for family ski holidays三级成人视频, looming next month and just a few weeks left of the season here’s everything you need to know about how coronavirus might impact your ski holiday.
Where is most a risk?
The countries, with ski resorts, that currently report active cases of the virus include (March 13):
- Italy: 15,113 total cases (12,839 active)
- Spain: 3,921 total cases (3,642 active)
- Germany: 3,116 total cases (3,064 active)
- France: 2,8766 total cases (2,803 active)
- USA: 1,832 total cases (1,760 active)
- Norway: 876 total cases (874 active)
- Switzerland: 868 total cases (857 active)
- Japan: 701 total cases (564 active)
- Austria: 428 total cases (423 active)
- Canada: 158 total cases (146 active)
- Slovenia: 96 total cases (96 active)
- Bulgaria: 23 total cases (22 active)
- Andorra: 1 total cases (1 active)
Is it safe to travel to Italy?
Italy has become the epicentre for the virus in Europe, with the entire country on lockdown, the number of cases rising daily and all future ski holidays to the country now cancelled. All ski resorts are now closed, with no ski buses or lifts operating.
三级成人视频At least 15,113 people in Italy have tested positive for coronavirus, and 1,016 people have died from the virus. This means Italy has the second-highest number of cases after China (80,814).
All ski resorts in the country have been forced to close三级成人视频 as the population goes into lockdown, ending the 2019/20 ski season almost two months prematurely.
Areas worst hit include the Veneto region, home to resorts such as Cortina d’Ampezzo and Arabba, the Lombardy region on the border with Switzerland, home to Livigno and Bormio, and the Piedmont region on the border with France and Switzerland, home to resorts such as Sestriere, Sauze d’Oulx三级成人视频, Montgenevre, and Bardonecchia.
The Trentino-Süd Tirol region on the border with Austria, home to Val Gardena, Madonna di Campiglio and Alta Badia, and the Aosta Valley, home to Cervinia, Alagna, Courmayeur and Pila were the first areas to pull the plug on their season seasons, to try control the spread of the virus.
The UK foreign office has now advised against all but essential travel to Italy. People will only be able to leave the quarantine zone for emergencies, and face up to three months in jail for breaking the quarantine rules. However, British nationals remain able to depart Italy without restriction and airports remain open. Airline schedules are subject to change and some flights are being cancelled. If travelling independently travellers are advised to check flight details with airlines.
As it stands, the European Commission has said that the European Union is not currently considering travel suspensions within the Schengen area. This means people can still cross the border into Italy by rail or road, but border checks are in place.
If you’re returning to the UK from Italy on or after March 9, the Department of Health and Social Care is advising you to stay indoors and avoid contact with other people, even if you don't have symptoms.
Is it safe to travel to Austria?
三级成人视频There are currently 428 of the virus confirmed in Austria, with 67 new cases confirmed overnight. It’s currently the country with the 16th highest number of cases globally, behind the UK (590 confirmed cases), Switzerland (868 confirmed cases) and France (2,876 confirmed cases).
Ski lifts in resorts in the provinces of Tirol, Salzburg and Vorarlberg will operate for the final time this winter on March 15, following this all accomodation, including hotels and apartments, will close from March 16. The news comes after the resort of Ischgl hit the headlines when a cluster of cases were linked to the après hot spot of the Kitzloch bar and restaurant.
This decision by Austrian authorities has forced tour operators to cancel ski holidays to the country, however the FCO does not currently advise against travel to Austria.
Information on its website explains travel restrictions that are currently in place between Austria and Italy. “The Austrian government has announced a range of restrictions on travel and events. All direct flights and trains between Austria and Italy are affected. Restrictions are currently in place on the border with Italy. Anyone wishing to cross the border is required to hold a medical certificate. The certificate needs to include the result of molecular biological test and must be no more than four days old, in English, German or Italian. Non-stop transit from Italy through Austria remains possible.”
Is it safe to travel to Switzerland?
The Swiss Federal Council has announced a number of “drastic measures,” including a ban on all social gatherings of more than 100 people in the country. This has forced ski resorts to announce they will be closing, as they cannot restrict the number of people in an area on the slopes at any one time.
三级成人视频Restaurants and bars in Switzerland remain open, but with a maximum capacity of 50 people. Schools and universities are also closed and travel restrictions between Switzerland and Italy remain in place. There are currently 1,137 cases of coronavirus confirmed in the country, with 269 new cases confirmed today.
The FCO does not advise against travel to Switzerland, but there are travel restrictions in place on the border with Italy. The Swiss Federal Council has decided that Schengen border controls at all internal borders will be reintroduced with immediate effect. Only Swiss citizens, persons with a residence permit in Switzerland and persons who have to travel to Switzerland for professional reasons are allowed to enter Italy.
British customers out in Swiss resorts can expect to return home this weekend as planned. Those due to travel will be contacted by their operator, many are offering refunds, alternative trips or chance to postpone until next winter.
Is it safe to travel to France?
三级成人视频The FCO has confirmed there is an ongoing coronavirus outbreak across France. The country currently has 2,876 active cases of coronavirus.
三级成人视频Travel restrictions have been implemented by the French government across the country, but currently movement in and out of all major ski resorts is as normal. Despite this, tour operators have begun to cancel ski holidays to French resorts that border with Italy. Crystal Ski Holidays has announced it will no longer be able to operate any of its holidays to the French resorts of Les Orres, Montgenèvre and Serre Chevalier for the remainder of this ski season, because guests to these resorts are required to fly into the Italian hub of Turin.
The French ski resort of Les Contamines Montjoie, which neighbours popular resorts Saint Gervais, Mégeve and Chamonix, was the location for a British family diagnosed with the virus after they made contact with businessman Steve Walsh, dubbed as a "super-spreader" and who had recently returned from Singapore.
Last week a representative from the Savoie Mont Blanc, home to these resorts as well as other popular destinations including the Courchevel, Val Thorens, Tignes, Val d’Isere and resorts in the Portes du Soleil, told The Telegraph三级成人视频 the ski resorts in the area are closely monitoring the situation.
"All Savoie Mont Blanc’s resorts are particularly vigilant and are monitoring the developments and advice relating to Coronavirus."
三级成人视频Latest figures show areas in the north east of France are worst hit by the virus. The majority of the country's ski resorts are located in the south eastern Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, home to Chambery and Grenbole airport and surrounding resorts, which borders west Italy. There are currently 211 cases reported in this region.
Is it safe to travel to Japan?
三级成人视频There are currently 701 active cases confirmed in Japan - it now ranks behind the USA, Switzerland and Norway.
The FCO currently advises that there are enhanced quarantine procedures at entry points to Japan such as airports and ports. The authorities may carry out extended health checks on arrival including compulsory hospitalisation.
On February 28 the northern island of Hokkaido, home to the country’s major ski resorts including Niseko, issued a "declaration of state of emergency", which required local residents to refrain from going out, until March 19.
Tour operator Ski Safari specialises in ski trips to the country, famed for its heavenly light powder snow. "The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is not advising against travel to Japan and we are encouraging our customers to continue with their holidays," said Richard Rice, Ski Safari Founder and Chairman at Ski Safari.
What are major tour operators saying?
Following the closure of ski resorts in Italy, Austria, Andorra and Norway operators are now contacting customers to offer refunds or alternative travel arrangements as all holidays to the countries have been cancelled.
三级成人视频In a statement Crystal Ski Holidays, the UK’s largest ski operator, has taken several steps to protect its customers. "We are aware of reports of Coronavirus in destinations around the world, including some regions in Austria, Switzerland and Italy. Please be advised that local authorities may have introduced additional screening measures and travel restrictions at airports," read a statement from the company.
Crystal is no longer able to operate its holidays to ski resorts in Italy, Austria, Andorra, Noway and Switzerland.
三级成人视频It has also announced it is pulling trips to the French resorts of Les Orres, Montgenèvre and Serre Chevalier for the remainder of this ski season, due to their proximity to the Italian border – these resorts use Turin as the access airport.
三级成人视频HotelPlan, the group that operates Inghams, Ski Total and Esprit Ski have shared advice on its website for its customers: "We will respond to any advice by the FCO (or overseas government agencies) against non-essential travel to your destination, and will contact you as soon as it is clear we won’t be able to provide your holiday. However, the unpredictable impacts of the Coronavirus mean that decisions about cancelling or changing your holiday may be no more than a few days before you are due to depart."
Following the news from Italian resorts Inghams released a statement: "This unfortunately means that there will be no lifts operating in our featured resorts of Champoluc, Gressoney, Cervinia and Courmayeur. This is an unprecedented and rapidly evolving situation, and we understand that it may be unsettling."
“Even though the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice has not changed, as a responsible tour operator, we will not be operating Inghams ski holidays to these resorts for the rest of the 2019/2020 winter season: St Christoph, St Anton, Ischgl, Galtür, Obergurgl/Hochgurgl, Sölden, Seefeld, Kühtai, Igls, Mayrhofen, Alpbach, Niederau/Oberau, Westendorf, Kitzbühel, Söll, Ellmau, St Johann, Zell am See, Saalbach/Hinterglemmm, Filzmoos, Obertauern, Lech, Zürs, and Bad Kleinkirchheim,” read a statement from HotelPlan today.
三级成人视频"On arrival in resort all guests are being given guidance on protective measures they can take against coronavirus or any viral illness. Plus information on symptoms to look out for and what to do in resort or once returned home should they experience any symptoms," continues the statement from Inghams.
Other operators such as VIP Ski and Ski Solutions, have all announced similar measures and won’t be running trips to affected areas for the rest of this season. Where possible operators are attempting to offer alternative holidays to unaffected areas, refunds or the chance to transfer the holiday to a date next winter.
Guests who are currently on holiday in Austrian or Swiss resorts will travel home as planned this weekend. Those due to travel, whose trips have now been cancelled, will be contacted by their tour operator.
I have booked to go to a ski festival, should I be concerned?
Snowbombing, the longest-running ski festival in the Alps, has been forced to cancel. The event, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last year and attracts thousands of British skiers, snowboarders and music fans, was due to take place from 13 to 18 April in the resort of Mayrhofen. This year’s headliners included Liam Gallagher, The Streets, Foals and Rudimental.
三级成人视频A statement from read: “Following discussions with the Austrian authorities, it is with a heavy heart that we have to announce the cancellation of Snowbombing 2020. In brief, our guests can opt for a refund, keep their existing holiday without the festival element or transfer their package to next year’s show.”
三级成人视频"We understand that this will be disappointing news for you, as it is for us. Snowbombing started in 1999 and this year was to be our 21st festival. The cancellation is unprecedented for Snowbombing but the wellbeing of all guests, artists and crew is our priority."
Snowbombing customers can either apply for a full refund, continue with their holiday to Mayrhofen and receive a £150 refund for the price of their festival wristband or transfer their booking to Snowbombing 2021, from 5 to 10 April, with the benefit of a 20 per cent refund on this year’s package and €100 credit on their festival wristband for next year. Snowbombing has stated that a team will still be Mayrhofen this April to manage anyone who does still visit the resort and, if possible, there will still be some entertainment provided.
三级成人视频Tomorrowland and Rock The Pistes were the first festivals held in ski resorts to announce cancellation following the French and Swiss governments' advice to limit large gatherings.
三级成人视频"In the beginning of February the build-up of Tomorrowland Winter 2020 in Alpe d’Huez started. It is with a heavy heart that we have to inform you that the French Government has decided to cancel this year’s edition," read a statement from the festival's organisers.
Tomorrowland ticket holders have been contacted directly to inform them of the next steps and whether refunds will be available. The Alpe d’Huez ski area, including restaurants, hotels and bars, is still open for winter sports – people are still welcome to visit the resort but the festival will not take place.
三级成人视频Organisers of the Rock The Piste festival, which spans the French-Swiss border and attracts 28,000 people to over 50 concerts on the slopes, also announced this year's event, which was due to take place between March 15 to 21 has been cancelled. Similar to France, Swiss authorities have banned all large events involving more than 1,000 people. The ski area remains open and those with a Rock The Piste lift pass can still visit the resorts.
Snowboxx, a week-long festival held in the French resort of Avoriaz三级成人视频 from 21 to 28 March, which is attended by thousands of British skiers and snowboarders each year, has also followed suit. It announced it has cancelled all of its headline performances, from Annie Mac, Andy C, DJ EZ and The Sugarhill Gang, on its main stage, which means there will be no large-scale music concerts at the event, but the rest of the planned activities will continue. Festival goers are able to claim an 80 per cent refund on the price of their wristband.
A statement from Snowboxx organisers reads: “Following the advice of the French authorities, we have been asked to reorganise the schedule of the music events taking place at Snowboxx due to the current Coronavirus (COVID 19) outbreak.”
“We will be working hard over the next week to re-organise a schedule for the festival that creates a series of smaller capacity shows in addition to the existing events across the schedule. Snowboxx will still continue to monitor the situation carefully over the next few weeks too. Safety of our guests is our top priority and we will work on all we can to ensure that they can still enjoy a great ski trip,” said Alan Crofton, Snowboxx festival director.
As it stands other events, as well as those organised by resorts independently, are still taking place as planned, but festival-goers are advised to take precautions, follow the advice issued by the Foreign Office and check their travel insurance and cancellation policies on the event or resort’s website.
Am I able to cancel my holiday?
The FCO advises against all travel to one part of the world because of coronavirus (Hubei Province, China) and all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China, plus the cities of Daegu and Cheongdo in South Korea, and all of Italy.
Everywhere else – including France, Austria and Japan – British nationals are not currently advised against travelling, when it comes to coronavirus. It is a fast moving situation and holidaymakers should check information regularly before they go.
Skiers and snowboarders are able to cancel their trips at their own discretion – but until the FCO changes its advice they will not be able to claim a refund because of coronavirus and normal cancellation policies will apply.
"We will only be able to provide you with a full refund if we have to cancel your holiday. If in the meantime you decide not to travel and choose to cancel your holiday then our usual cancellation terms apply," read a statement from HotelPlan.
"If we are forced to cancel your holiday, or make a significant change, then we will offer you a choice of a full refund of all monies paid or, if possible, accepting the significant change or making alternative holiday arrangements with us."
三级成人视频"Our usual terms and conditions for amendments and cancellations apply," said Crystal. "However, should the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice change to advise against travel to the country you are visiting or due to visit, we will contact you to discuss your options. We will look to offer an alternative holiday arrangement or if a significant change is involved, a full refund will be offered."
Ski lessons, equipment hire and independent travel – can you apply for a refund?
Booking a ski holiday often involves paying for a number of additional costs, from equipment hire to lessons. While each company will have different policies on cancellations and refunds many are announcing special measures due to coronavirus, while others are encouraging skiers and snowboarders to go and enjoy the great end-of-season conditions.
Intersport, which runs thousands of equipment hire shops across the Alps, is accepting all cancellations and offering a full refund for any bookings in any of its stores.
The British Association of Snowsport Instructors, BASI, was forced to cancel its courses in Italy. “Our advice to students impacted by these cancellations is to use their travel insurance to recoup as much of their outlay as possible,” read a statement.
“However, seeing as the underlying reason for these cancellations is clearly extraordinary, BASI will be as flexible as possible with regards our usual cancellation policy and will endeavour to find new course places for those impacted and to do what we can to minimise the financial impact to students.”
Those who have lost out on ski holidays and lessons in Italy and are looking to book elsewhere SkiBro, an app for booking guides and ski instructors, will price match any lessons that have been cancelled in any resort for an alternative elsewhere. All that customers need to do is book the new lessons on SkiBro and provide evidence of the cancelled lessons in Italy. SkiBro will then refund the difference in cost. The offer applies to all cancelled Italian ski lesson bookings not just those made on the app.
New Generation, one of the largest British-run ski schools in the Alps, is currently running all its lessons as planned in its resorts in Austria, Switzerland and France. “The snow conditions are great and we're delivering fantastic ski and snowboard lessons to our guests,” said Rebecca Miles from the company.
The Warren Smith Ski Academy, which operates courses primarily in Italy and Switzerland, took steps last week to ensure its customers could still fulfill their trips. The Academy chose to move all its April course from Cervinia in Italy to Verbier in Switzerland. Customers were offered the transfer, which many chose, or a refund. The Academy’s chalet partner in Verbier, Tai Pan Chalet, also price matched the hotel bookings of the customers who chose to transfer. The Academy continues to operate as normal in Verbier until the end of April – concerned customers who don’t wish to travel are being offered a refund.
The Eurostar ski train service, a popular choice for families and groups, is currently running as normal to resorts in the French Alps. “We continue to carefully monitor official advice and as there are no travel restrictions in place across the countries across our network, we continue to operate our services as normal,” read a statement on Eurostars website. Its usual cancellation policy and terms and conditions apply, however there is advice for customers who have been placed in isolation and can no longer travel: “If you have been placed in quarantine and have a booking that falls within the dates of your quarantine or isolation period, please contact us directly and we will be happy to assist with exchanging your booking for a future date.” The last ski train of the season is due to run on April 11 2020.
Is my travel insurance still valid?
If the FCO advises against “all” or “all but essential travel” to a region or country and you decide to travel there then your travel insurance will be invalid and you will not be covered.
If you decide to not travel voluntarily the Association of British Insurers (ABI) has explained that insurance is not designed to cover ‘disinclination to travel’ where the FCO advice has not changed to advise against travel.