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Skiers furious as tour operator refuse refunds – what to do if your ski holiday has been cancelled

skiers on hill
Thousands of British skiers and snowboarders will not be visiting the slopes this winter Credit: getty

The spread of coronavirus throughout Europe has forced the continent's ski resorts to close early三级成人视频, with many hundreds of British holidaymakers left with their travel plans in tatters. 

Amid the frustration customers are now finding they may not receive a full refund for their holiday.

While travellers can usually expect the option of a full refund if their trip with a tour operator is cancelled, now companies are instead offering vouchers for future travel or alternative trips in an effort to protect their balance sheet during the coronavirus crisis. 

三级成人视频Abta, the UK travel trade association, has explained the shift is due to the unprecedented impact the virus is having on the travel industry. 

“As a result of the extraordinary situation and customer concerns over coronavirus, many travel companies and airlines are doing all they can to offer more flexible booking policies at this time, such as giving customers the option to change their travel date should they wish to postpone their holiday. In certain circumstances this may not be possible. Customers should speak to their travel provider to discuss what their options may be,” read a statement from Abta.

The Austrian resort of Ischgl was put into quarantine after a cluster of cases was discovered Credit: ischgl tourism

三级成人视频Many of the major ski operators, including Inghams, Esprit and Ski Total, all owned by Hotel Plan, as well as all-inclusive operator Club Med and smaller operations such as VIP Ski and Alpine Elements are taking this approach – much to the frustration of their customers.

三级成人视频While a previous statement from Hotel Plan earlier this week read: “We are working closely with Abta and are currently offering all guests booked to depart between 16 March 2020 and the end of the winter season, an incentive to move their holiday booking to 2020/2021 winter season. Alternatively guests can choose to receive credit vouchers for the same value as the monies paid and these can be used on future Inghams, Esprit, Flexiski, Ski Total and Santas Lapland holidays, departing before 30 April 2021. The vouchers will be issued within the next 28 days.”

三级成人视频A new release, on each brand's Facebook page reads: "We’re so sad and disappointed to have had to end the season early. We’ve been busy bringing our guests and staff home and are very relieved to have now flown most of them back safely. If your holiday has been impacted, our Guest Services team are ready to take your calls to discuss your options regarding your holiday. We are experiencing high call volumes, but please be patient as we are really keen to speak to you. The number is 01483 945 918."

Customers have taken to social media to air their grievances about the sudden change in policies and struggles to get refunds.

Paddy Moore wrote on Ingham’s Facebook page三级成人视频: “In less than 24 hours Inghams have changed their original terms and conditions as per what they had originally posted for Coronavirus cancellations! And frankly this is absolutely disgusting.” The comment goes on to explain he and his partner would have originally been entitled to a refund of nearly £2,500.

三级成人视频Stephen Roche added to the post: “I cannot commit to a holiday that is a year away. I require a FULL refund for our holiday that was due to depart this Saturday.”

The frustrations continue on Esprit Ski’s account – the company specialises in family ski trips. Victoria Clark wrote: “Esprit Ski - after our ski holiday to France departing next Sunday was understandably cancelled, I am shocked to receive an e-mail this afternoon advising that you will offer only either a transfer of holiday to next year, or credit vouchers. This completely contradicts the cancellation t&cs from our original booking. Our group of six contains two individuals over 70s who may or may not be able to ski next year, and a full refund is the only acceptable (and moral) recourse.”

Natasha Troy shared her concerns on the Alpine Elements Facebook page: “Just got our email from Alpine Elements about ‘next steps’ after the cancellation of our holiday due to leave yesterday. They clearly are not offering refunds only holiday vouchers (how much for remains to be seen) otherwise it’s ‘take it up with your insurance company.’”

However, those in the industry are calling for understanding as coronavirus forces companies into uncharted territory.

三级成人视频“The UK travel industry is facing a crisis of unprecedented scale, which is impacting hundreds of travel businesses and many thousands of their customers. Abta, The Travel Association, is calling for urgent support from the Government to help businesses through the short-term,” read a statement from ABTA.

Suggested measures include waiving tour operators’ responsibility to provide refunds to customers, if the costs are not covered by suppliers such as hotels or airlines. It has been proposed that refund credits, in the form of a travel voucher for future travel for example, should be allowed as an acceptable alternative to cash refunds. Currently, operators have 14 days to arrange refunds, Abta is also asking for this regulation to be changed.

“The evolving coronavirus situation is causing immense damage to UK travel businesses. I am calling for urgent action today by the Government to make money available to travel and tourism companies and to make temporary changes to existing package travel regulation. Without this action, we risk healthy travel businesses going bankrupt, thousands of job losses across the country and customers losing money,” said Mark Tanzer, Abta's chief executive. 

三级成人视频Were you due to travel on a ski holiday in the coming weeks? Here’s further advice on what to do now your holiday has been cancelled.

I’ve booked a ski holiday with an operator, what should I do?

While some operators are slowly advertising direct phone numbers to call, many tour operators are encouraging customers not to get in touch directly to discuss refunds or alternative travel as they focus on bringing existing guests and staff, currently out in the mountains, home. Instead they will be contacted directly to discuss their options, whether that’s a refund, alternative trip or vouchers for future travel. See details from the major ski holiday operators below.

Resorts in Italy, including Cortina, were the first to close Credit: cortina marketing

三级成人视频If you do wish to get in touch with your operator, getting through to customer services is becoming increasingly difficult – regardless of whether by phone, email or social media. Anecdotal evidence suggests that using the ‘live chat’ service via a company’s official website can yield a swifter response, though of course nothing is guaranteed. Most companies have issued statements and advice on their websites.

What are tour operators saying?

Crystal Ski Holidays

A statement from the UK’s biggest ski tour operator, which operates holidays to all the world’s leading ski resorts, : “All customers whose holidays were affected have now been contacted directly to discuss their options, whether that’s a full refund or amendment their booking. Due to the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and local restrictions in place, we’ve sadly had to cancel our ski holiday programme for the rest of this season....The safety and wellbeing of our customers and staff is our highest priority.” 

三级成人视频A post on the brand's Facebook page suggests email is the best form of contact: " If you’ve a query about your booking or a cancelled holiday please email help@crystalski.co.uk with your details and one of the team will get back to you." Reports are coming in via social media that refunds have already begun to be processed and received by clients.

Inghams/ Esprit Ski/ Ski Total

三级成人视频Hotel Plan has informed its customers that they will likely receive compensation in the form of an alternative trip or a voucher for future travel – however bookings are now being considered on a case-by-case basis and some customers have reported the operators have agreed to grant refunds.

三级成人视频An from the company on March 17 read: "It is with sadness that, following the decisions made throughout March by the authorities of our featured destinations, the FCO, and as a result of this latest government advice, we have had to suspend all holidays departing between 17 March and 16 April 2020. It goes without saying how disappointed we are that this has happened. More than anything, we’re really sorry so many people’s holidays have ended this way."

Lech is one of the Austrian resorts in quarantine Credit: Getty Images Contributor/Thomas Stankiewicz / LOOK-foto

"Over the last few weeks, we have acted as fast as we can with the most up to date information available and our team have been working round the clock to bring guests home with as little inconvenience as possible. This is an unprecedented situation and the safety and welfare of our guests and staff has always remained our highest priority.
三级成人视频 We are in the process of contacting all guests due to travel with us in the next few weeks with further information regarding their holiday. We will contact those due to depart soonest first and we kindly ask for your patience and to only contact us if urgent. If you have booked via a travel agent, they will be your point of contact."

三级成人视频Previously, the company wrote: "We are working closely with ABTA and are currently offering all guests booked to depart between 16 March 2020 and the end of the winter season, an incentive to move their holiday booking to 2020/2021 winter season. Alternatively guests can choose to receive credit vouchers for the same value as the monies paid and these can be used on future Inghams, Esprit, Flexiski, Ski Total and Santas Lapland holidays, departing before 30 April 2021. The vouchers will be issued within the next 28 days."

“Our focus now has to be on the safety and comfort of our customers. We have worked round the clock to get them home with as little inconvenience as possible. We are fortunate to have a very experienced team on the ground to support,” said Paul Carter, Chief Executive Officer, Hotelplan UK. 

三级成人视频“It goes without saying how disappointed we are this has happened. More than anything, we’re really sorry so many people’s holidays have ended this way.” 

Club Med

三级成人视频Many Club Med customers have expressed their frustrations about the lack of communication from the all-inclusive operators over the past few days, those who have lost out on their holidays can expect compensation to be in the form of travel credit.

三级成人视频"Where customers have been subject to a holiday cancellation, Club Med is offering the following: the full amount paid will be credited back into their Club Med account which can be used on a future holiday for departures up until the 30th April 2021. Club Med are constantly adapting to a situation which is becoming global and the priority is to protect the health and safety of all our customers and teams," read a from the company. 

Airlines, including EasyJet, have cancelled flights to a number of destinations Credit: Bloomberg News/Simon Dawson

Ski Safari

三级成人视频A statement from , which specialises in trips to destinations in America, Canada and Japan, read: “We’re looking at all options for customers affected, be that a deferral, an insurance claim, or a refund. We have been in touch with customers in resort and are keeping customers, yet to travel, updated as much as possible.”

VIP Ski

三级成人视频A statement on , which offers chalet holidays throughout the Alps, read: “We are able to offer two alternatives if you have booked for this 19/20 season but have not yet travelled; You can defer your holiday to the same chalet and date for next 20/21 season and we will of course honour the same price. You can make this change straightaway. 

三级成人视频“If the same chalet is not available next season for any reason or you would like the liberty of booking a different chalet on a different date, or because of a change in party numbers or any other reason then we will issue you with a ‘virtual voucher’ for the holiday price that you paid together with a £50 goodwill gesture for every person that was booked to travel this winter.”

“VIP SKI has all clients safely back in the UK and is currently contacting and helping clients with bookings made for the remainder of this season. Right now their main priority are their clients who are all being contacted directly.”

Ski Solutions

Ski Solutions, which acts as an agent for many major operators, has updated the following statement on its : "We will look positively towards next winter, and ask you to join us in proactively supporting our communities in the mountains by rebooking to travel again and making sure Winter 2020-21 will be remembered for all the right reasons. Over the last few weeks, we have acted as quickly as we can with the most up to date information available, and our team have been working round the clock to bring our clients home with as little inconvenience as possible.
We are in the process of working through all of the cancelled bookings to advise clients of the options available."

Previously it said: “If we are forced to cancel your holiday as a result of FCO advice, or because of a resort closure due to Coronavirus then we will offer you alternative holiday options for next winter. In the event of cancellation, in line with current advice from ABTA, you should first check with your travel insurance provider to see if you have cover available under your policy to claim for a refund. We will be contacting all clients in the week ahead with further details.”

Alpine Elements 

Customers of Alpine Elements have revealed they are being offered travel vouchers and credit by way of compensation. An updated statement on its reads: “The Coronavirus situation is having a huge impact on holidays and we understand that you may have questions about any cancelled ski holiday or upcoming summer holidays. We want to reassure you that we’re working around the clock to help our customers and our advice is always guided by the FCO and ABTA, with whom we are working very closely.”

"At the present time, we are offering customers who have had their ski holiday cancelled (departures between March 15 and April 19th) the option to change their travel date for an alternative holiday or destination in either our winter or summer products over the next 24 months. You can do this by applying for a Credit Voucher, see below.
In line with current advice from ABTA and the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO), you should check with your travel insurance provider to see if you have cover available under your policy to claim for a refund. Once you have this information, please contact our UK Operations team who will discuss next steps."

Action Outdoors

The operator, which markets the French holiday company and its all-inclusive budget-friendly ski trips to Brits, including families, has released the following statement: "Action Outdoors is providing all of its customers full refunds on their holiday booking, which does not include travel. The refund would include all Action Outdoors holiday products which means accommodation, lift passes, ski hire, instruction and meals. That also includes refunds for all the customers that turned up this past weekend and had to go back home again."

I’ve booked my holiday independently, what are my rights?

While those who booked a package will have all elements of their holidays taken care of at once by their operator or agent, anyone who was due to travel independently will have to contact all their providers to discuss refunds and cancellation policies. “If the airline cancels, then you will get a refund of the fare. If the resort is closed, you should get a refund of the lift pass, if you have bought one in advance. You may not be able to get a refund for your accommodation, however,” says Nick Trend, The Telegraph三级成人视频’s consumer travel expert.

The ESF is offering refunds to customers who were due to travel

In light of the unprecedented situation, coronavirus has caused many companies to amend their cancellation policies. for example, 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. , an app that allows you to book ski lessons or guiding in hundreds of resorts, has explained that if the ski school is granting a full refund, which many are, then customers will get their money back. Otherwise standard cancellation policies apply. The app is also offering clients credit of 10 per cent of their booking, rather than a refund, which will be applied to their account and usable throughout next winter. 

三级成人视频The , Ecole du Ski Frace, which operates ski schools in resorts across the country is offering full refunds. “In lieu of the French Governments decision to close all French ski resorts from 5pm on Sunday 15th March due to the Coronavirus outbreak, we wish to inform all clients to contact your designated resort office for information on cancellations and refunds. The SNMSF (National Union of French Ski Instructors) has encouraged all ESF directors to offer refunds under these sad and difficult circumstances,” read a statement from the company.

三级成人视频“If you have booked individual services from different companies you should contact the travel companies concerned to see what alternatives or options they can offer. Whether you are entitled to a refund if you do not use the services will depend on the specific terms of each company,” said ABTA.

Can I claim on my travel insurance?

On March 17 the UK Foreign Office (FCO) has advised Britons against "all but essential travel" for at least the next 30 days to prevent the spread of coronavirus - this is good news for those with insurance­. Read more about what this decision means for British travellers here.

三级成人视频“This unprecedented step actually provides welcome clarity for our customers and the industry. Generally insurance cancellation or travel disruption will relate to FCO advice,” explains the ABI, the Association of British Insurers. “This decision will therefore allow policyholders with cancellation or travel disruption cover in place to claim for cancelled trips that were already booked and cannot now go ahead." However, a number of insurers have specified that recently purchased policies may exclude travel disruption caused by coronavirus. 

“You should also check with your travel insurer to see whether you have any cover available under the policy,” said ABTA. Read our full guide to whether travel insurance covers coronavirus here.

What if you’re currently out in a resort that is now shut?

“If you have booked with an operator, they must get you home. If you have booked independently, then you will have to get yourself home,” explains Trend.

Since the closure of Austrian resorts on Friday, followed by Switzerland on Saturday三级成人视频 and France on Sunday tour operators have been working to get all British customers home, including customers who were in resorts such as St Anton that were put into quarantine. Tour operators are updating customers regularly, it is advised to make sure your contact details are up to date.