Business Companion Coronavirus Bulletin

Standfirst: No industry has been hit as hard or as fast by COVID-19 as travel. The situation is changing all the time, so make sure you keep up with the latest advice on changes to the industry and what they mean for you.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect consumers and disrupt their travel plans, new guidance has been released on the implications of the crisis for holidaymakers.

Business Companion, a free online resource created by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), has published a special Coronavirus bulletin which answers many of the questions consumers, and particularly businesses, are likely to have about some of the issues arising from COVID-19 restrictions.

The Bulletin addresses the responsibilities of holiday providers and retailers with regard to customer contracts, cancellations and compensation. It provides links to up-to-date, in-depth Government information, as well as covering the key aspects of consumer law relevant to the current situation.

It also highlights the fact that much of the current legislation was not designed with the present circumstances in mind, acknowledging that "pragmatism, communication and trust have important roles to play when the strict application of legislation may not be appropriate".

The Bulletin advises businesses to:

• Keep communicating with customers about the steps you are taking now and those you intend to take in the future.
• Be as honest and as accurate as possible. If you don't have all the answers, say so.
• Appeal to customers for patience while you do everything you can to resolve their concerns - most people understand that businesses are facing huge pressures on services and finances and that they might have to wait a little longer.
• Deal with the most imminent travel plans first because the situation changes daily. Let your customers know that this is what you are doing, and why.
• Advise customers to check their travel insurance cover, in case they need to access it.
• Keep in contact with reliable sources of information, such as via your trade association or Primary Authority partner.

It also discusses the important issue of cancellations, again pointing out that a degree of pragmatism and flexibility is likely to be necessary in order to resolve consumers' concerns in a way that ensures fairness for all parties.

Looking to the future, the bulletin discusses the pressure from the travel sector on the Government to relax the current 14-day refund rule and to consider what can be done to support the industry.

During these disruptive and difficult times, it is clear that all of us - consumers and businesses alike - will need to adapt to a situation which is extremely worrying for all concerned. It is also important to remember that the safety and wellbeing of everybody - from holidaymakers to travel business employees - must take precedent when dealing with this unprecedented situation.

Visit the Business Companion website for further guidance for travel industry businesses during the Coronavirus pandemic.
The bulletin was produced on contract by Fourth Estate Creative Ltd.

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