If there was one person who could truly be called an icon of the travel industry, it was Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart.
TORONTO — With COVID-19 leading to travel restrictions around the world, tour operators have been forced to re-evaluate their plans for the coming months, with many suspending operations and updating their travel policies to accommodate impacted clients.
Here’s the latest from top tour operators. This list is updated as we receive new information from each company. The latest information can always be found at the company’s website.
LATEST UPDATES: Dec. 14 – Sunwing; Nov. 3 – WestJet Vacations
UPDATED SEPT. 1: All of ACV’s 2020/2021 flight and hotel packages to select destinations in Mexico and in the Caribbean will include – for free – the tour operator’s new COVID-19 Coverage and Assistance Plan, administered by Allianz Global Assistance. Bookings must be made on or after Aug. 31, 2020 for travel Sept. 4, 2020 – April 30, 2021 to applicable destinations to be eligible for coverage under the COVID-19 Coverage and Assistance Plan. More details and the full list of eligible destinations can be found here.
ACV has eliminated expiry dates for its future travel credits issued for cancelled vacations due to COVID-19. Clients with cancelled ACV bookings will automatically receive a future travel credit with no expiry date. These revised credits will be sent to travel agents directly by email.
Earlier this spring ACV made changes to its policies, including changes to guidelines for future travel credits, including the ability to transfer a future ravel credit to another person. Clients can now choose to transfer the totality of their future travel credit to another person with no change to the validity of the credit. Plus, if a customer books a new package that is less expensive than the value of the future travel credit, any residual value from the lower fare will remain on the customer’s file for future use.
UPDATED AUG. 12: Busabout has suspended departures right through until the end of 2021. “Just know we are doing everything we can to bring Busabout back in 2022 so you can continue to explore and travel Europe just the way you want to,” says the company. More details are here.
UPDATED AUGUST 12: CIE Tours has suspended the operation of all departures through Sept. 30, with tours for October and beyond still operational at this time. All guests booked for any 2020 departure are permitted to move to 2021 travel dates without incurring any cancellation fees or land penalties as along as these changes are made on or before Aug. 31, 2020.
For guests rebooking on the same tour series for a new departure date, any price increase for the future date will be waived. If the new trip selected is a different tour series or destination and the price is higher, guests will be responsible for the difference. If the new trip selected is at a lower price, no refund will be issued for the difference.
Guests who want more time to select their future vacation will be provided with a travel voucher equal to 100% of the land portion of the booking. The voucher is transferrable and can be applied to any 2021 departure for any of CIE’s destinations.
For more details go to https://www.cietours.com/en-ca/travel-update.
UPDATED AUGUST 12: Collette is making decisions to either operate or cancel tour dates 30-45 days prior to departure of travel. At that time, the company will contact guests to notify them on the status of their tour.
To check the status of August tours click here.
Departures to China have been cancelled through 2020 and will not operate in 2021. Departures to Russia have been cancelled through Sept. 30, 2020. Canadian Rockies by Rail (Rocky Mountaineer) have been cancelled through 2020 (excluding the Sept. 30, 2020 departure). Also cancelled for 2020 are Alaska Discovery, Canadian Rockies by Train (VIA Rail) and Calgary Stampede.
For guests with a cancelled tour, Collette is required to issue refunds back in the original form of payment. If the company is unable to do so, it will issue a check. Refunds will be processed within approximately eight weeks.
For more information click here.
UPDATED AUGUST 12: Due to the ongoing pandemic and associated travel restrictions, all Contiki trips due to depart on or before Nov. 30, 2020 have been suspended globally.
Impacted guests are eligible to either:
For all other 2020 bookings, Contiki is temporarily offering a change fee waiver, meaning that no fee will be charged for clients to change their booking, on the land portion of the trip until 30 days prior to departure.
For a list of FAQs and the latest updates from Contiki, go to https://www.contiki.com/ca/en/resources/travel-alerts.
UPDATED JULY 30: Costsaver has temporarily suspended all guided holidays across the globe for trips departing up and until Nov. 30, 2020. Clients who have a booked trip during this suspension period have a future travel credit automatically available to them for the full value of the land portion of their trip, to use for travel before Dec. 31, 2022.
Clients have two options:
Some conditions apply. Future Travel Credits can be redeemed with the company or another TTC brand (other TTC brands include Trafalgar, Insight Vacations, Luxury Gold, Uniworld and U River Cruises) on any destination or trip for travel before Dec. 31, 2022. For maximum flexibility, clients can also choose to transfer their FTC to a friend or family member. For all other 2020 bookings, clients can have peace of mind knowing they have the flexibility to change their trip until 30 days prior to departure.
For more details go to costsavertour.com/en-ca/resources/coronavirus-travel-update.
UPDATED AUGUST 12: Exodus has suspended departures until Aug. 31, 2020; the vast majority of tours departing on or after Sept. 1 are currently planned to run as scheduled. Travellers will receive an update of their trip within 30 days prior to departure.
Through Exodus’ Booking Promise, if Exodus cancels or suspends a trip, or if a client is unable to travel due to restrictions either in their home country or the country they’re travelling to, the booking can be transferred to a future date or alternative holiday. Alternatively, clients can receive a Refund Credit Note valid for bookings made by July 31, 2021.
Clients can transfer their booking free of charge up to 10 weeks before departure.
For more information go to https://www.exodustravels.com/ca/travel-safety-advice.
UPDATED AUGUST 31: G Adventures says all tours departing up to and including Oct. 31, 2020 have been suspended, as well as the November and December 2020 departures of its G Expedition ship. This comes with the exception of a selection of October departures operating in Europe for travel that is possible between certain countries.
Travellers can rebook their tour for a future date or book a different tour instead. All travellers booked and fully paid on a tour departing up to Oct. 31, 2020 will receive a 110% travel credit on all booked tour services, including pre- and post-night accommodation and transfers, to be used on any tour departing up to two years from the end of the month of their tour’s suspension. Travellers who haven’t yet made their final payment will have their Lifetime Deposit kept on file to put towards a future tour.
At this time, tours beyond Oct. 31 have not been suspended. However, to accommodate guests who may feel uncertain about travelling in the upcoming months, G Adventures is offering those booked on tours departing up to Dec. 31, 2020 the option to transfer their booking to a future departure date for the same price. Alternatively, they can pay in full and receive a 110% travel credit for a future tour.
Travel advisors with questions can call 1-877-277-9854 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GATEWAYS INTERNATIONAL TAILOR-MADE TOURS
Citing the health and safety of its clients and team members, Gateways International temporarily closed its office in the wake of COVID-19. “Rest assured all staff will be working from home and will remain accessible by email to handle inquiries and issues,” said the company. Clients are encouraged to contact Gateways directly at email@example.com or email their dedicated specialist.
GLOBUS FAMILY OF BRANDS
UPDATED AUGUST 12: Globus family of brands – Globus, Cosmos, Monograms and Avalon Waterways – has extended its suspension of operations through Oct. 31, 2020.
Through its Peace of Mind Travel Plan, the company is allowing all travel bookings between March 14 and Oct. 31, 2020 to move travel dates without incurring cancellation fees, land or airline penalties. Impacted clients can move their booking to any Globus family of brands vacation for any destination. If they are not ready to choose their new vacation, the full value paid to the company will be provided a Letter of Credit, redeemable for any future departure through 2022. The credit is transferrable.
The Plan also includes an additional bonus credit; this credit of up to $200 per person will be in addition to the Letter of Credit, redeemable for any future travel through 2020.
For Peace of Mind Travel Plan details and more info go to:
UPDATED AUG. 12: With Goway’s Book With Confidence Commitment, clients can take advantage of a special offer for land only bookings made/deposited between June 7 and Aug. 31, 2020. A reduced deposit of $150 deposit is payable per traveller (regularly $500 when booking Africa, and $300 when booking any other destination). Deposit is refundable up to 30 days prior to departure. The offer applies to new bookings from June 7 to August 31, 2020 for travel January 1 to June 30, 2021. To be considered a ‘new booking’ the traveller must not currently hold a FTC with Goway. Goway also has an updated Flexible Deposit policy, and info on Travel Insurance including a Cancel-For-Any-Reason option. For more details see https://www.goway.com/goway-travel/our-policies/.
Due to potentially high volumes of phone calls, Goway is asking that in the first instance for clients to email at firstname.lastname@example.org with their booking reference, full name and destination.
Those with departures 30 days out should contact Goway to discuss their options or conditions that may apply to their booking.
Those who have only paid a deposit, in the current circumstances, they can defer travel and transfer their deposit to another destination or date of travel. Their deposit is non-refundable, but it is transferable.
For situations where Goway, on a client’s behalf, has paid supplemental deposits/payments to third-party suppliers, including airlines, the penalties of those suppliers will apply.
HOLA SUN HOLIDAYS
UPDATED OCT. 20: Hola Sun is advising agents that due to the current COVID-19 crisis, the suspension of Hola Sun’s flights to Cuba with Air Transat has been extended until July 31, 2020. Passengers who are unable to travel due to the suspension of their flights will receive a future travel voucher, which is valid for 24 months from the original travel date.The future travel voucher will be automatically applied to these reservations so there is no need to contact Hola Sun regarding the travel credit
Hola Sun has reduced the final payment due date to 25 days prior to departure instead of the normal 45 days prior to departure. The policy is valid for all departures June 1 – Oct. 31, 2020 and is only applicable to packages and air only bookings.
Hola Sun’s new COVID-19 insurance n coverage is now offered on all vacation packages and air only bookings at no extra cost. The free coverage offer is valid for new bookings made Oct. 15 – Nov. 15, 2020, for departures Dec. 3, 2020 – May 31, 2021, for stays up to 21 days. Maximum coverage is $200,000 combined for all expenses related to COVID-19 and related complications.
UPDATED JULY 30: Insight Vacations has suspended all trips departing up and until Nov. 30, 2020. Clients who have a booked trip during this suspension period have a future travel credit automatically available to them for the full value of the land portion of their trip, to use for travel before Dec. 31, 2022.
Clients have two options:
Future Travel Credits can be redeemed with the company or another TTC brand (other TTC brands include Trafalgar, Costsaver, Luxury Gold, Uniworld and U River Cruises) on any destination or trip for travel before Dec. 31, 2022. For maximum flexibility, clients can also choose to transfer their FTC to a friend or family member. For all other 2020 bookings, clients can have peace of mind knowing they have the flexibility to change their trip until 30 days prior to departure.
For more details go to https://www.insightvacations.com/ca/information/travel-update.
UPDATED AUG. 12: Due to ongoing travel restrictions, Intrepid Travel has extended the suspension of the majority of tours until at least Oct. 31, 2020. Guests who were booked on a suspended tour due to the pandemic will automatically receive a credit of 110% of monies paid (of their deposit or full payment). This excludes additional flights or insurance.
For guests booked on a tour that is due to depart from Nov. 1, 2020, there are currently no changes to their trip and it is scheduled to depart as planned. Intrepid will notify guests directly via its customer care team or their travel agent if a tour is suspended.
Clients who want to cancel their booking can receive a credit of monies paid (excluding flights or insurance) to use on a new tour.
For all future bookings, full payment is now due 21 days prior to the departure date of their tour.
For more information go to https://www.intrepidtravel.com/ca/trip-suspensions.
UPDATED AUGUST 12: Lion World Travel is now offering clients the option to postpone travel to as late as Dec. 9, 2022 (with some exceptions). Clients are asked to call 1-800-387-2706 to confirm their travel options if they wish to change, postpone or transfer their impacted trip.
If a client is uncertain about new travel dates, Lion World will issue a travel credit for any future travel with the company. Credit for issued airline tickets as well as all booked accommodations would remain with the same suppliers.
Standard cancellation penlties still apply to all bookings. To view booking terms and conditions click here.
For more information go to https://www.lionworldtravel.com/travel-alert.
UPDATED JULY 30: Luxury Gold has temporarily suspended all guided holidays across the globe for trips departing up and until Nov. 30, 2020. Clients who have a booked trip during this suspension period have a future travel credit automatically available to them for the full value of the land portion of their trip, to use for travel before Dec. 31, 2022.
Clients have two options:
Some conditions apply. Future Travel Credits can be redeemed with the company or another TTC brand (other TTC brands include Trafalgar, Costsaver, Insight Vacations, Uniworld and U River Cruises) on any destination or trip for travel before Dec. 31, 2022. For maximum flexibility, clients can also choose to transfer their FTC to a friend or family member. For all other 2020 bookings, clients can have peace of mind knowing they have the flexibility to change their trip until 30 days prior to departure.
For more details go to luxurygold.com/ca/information/travel-update.
Quark Expeditions’ ‘Book with Confidence & Rebook Anytime’ Policy, which applies to its Arctic 2020 season (excluding the North Pole), allows clients to cancel any time, for any reason, up to 24 hours prior to their voyage start date.
The policy is risk-free, allowing clients to rebook with a 100% future travel refund credit for deposits or other partial payments at the time of cancellation received by Quark. It also allows clients to rebook with 120% future travel refund credit for voyages where full payment at the time of cancellation has been received by the company.
There are no rebooking fees and credits are transferrable.
New and existing Antarctica 2020 bookings receive Extended Payment Terms for voyages up to 60 days prior to voyage.
Agents are encouraged to visit Quark’s Partner Resource Centre for full details, or email email@example.com.
UPDATED JULY 24: After multiple delays to its 2020 season’s start, Rocky Mountaineer has postponed operations until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The remainder of the 2020 travel season has been suspended to include all departures through to Oct. 11, 2020. This means that Rocky Mountaineer will resume operations in 2021.
Guests on a suspended departure will receive a future travel credit of 110% value of monies paid, which is valid through to the end of the 2022 season. The rail prices for 2021 and 2022 are being held at the 2020 level so that guests will not experience an inflationary price increase for the rail portion of their itinerary.
For guests rebooking a similar package in 2021, within 14 days on either side of the original departure date anniversary, Rocky Mountaineer will guarantee they will not pay more for the new package, including third-party hotels, tours and attractions, due to the later travel date.
Guests on a suspended departure can contact their travel professional or Rocky Mountaineer before Nov. 30, 2021 to select their new travel date.
For more information go to www.rockymountaineer.com/covid19-keeping-you-updated.
UPDATED DEC. 14: Sunwing has restarted its winter sun program with current gateways Toronto and Montreal, and destinations Cancun, Jamaica and Punta Cana. Sunwing is also adding sun flights out of Western Canada. Flights will depart from Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton to Cancun on Saturdays starting Jan. 9, 2021, with additional flight service from Edmonton to Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan on Saturdays starting Dec. 26, 2020.
Sunwing has also resumed flights to Cuba, onboard Sunwing Airlines, with weekly flights departing from Toronto and Montreal to Varadero.
Sunwing’s flexible booking options include the option to change or cancel travel plans anytime with ease, monthly payment options and complimentary Price Drop Cash Back of up to $800 per couple. Plus, select packages booked during the sale for departures between now and Dec. 31, 2021 include COVID-19 coverage at no additional cost.
Sunwing customers with departure dates for flights or vacation packages between March 17 and August 31 are eligible to receive a future travel credit in the value of the original amount paid. No action needed. The credit can be redeemed against future travel to anywhere Sunwing Airlines operates, depending on original departure date. Original departure dates between March 17 and May 31, 2020 are redeemable up to June 20, 2022. Original departure dates June 1 – August 31 2020, are redeemable up to August 31, 2022.
UPDATED AUGUST 12: Tauck has cancelled all land tours and cruises with departure dates through Sept. 30, 2020. The company is contacting impacted guests and travel agents in chronological order, reaching out to those scheduled to travel soonest.
For travel scheduled Oct. 1-Dec. 31, 2020, final payment for all land tours and cruises is now due 45 days prior to departure.
All cancellation penalties will be frozen at the current tier and will not increase prior to final payment. By freezing cancellation penalties, if a guest purchased Guest or Cruise Protection and cancel their trip before their final payment is due, the cost of the Guest or Cruise Protection fee is Dreamsaved. If they did not purchase Guest or Cruise Protection, the cost of their deposit will be Dreamsaved. In either case, Dreamsaved funds are available for clients to use for future travel.
If a client cancels their booking within 45 days of departure, Tauck has now lowered penalties for cancellation to the most lenient tier inside of final payment. Any penalties assessed will be placed into a Dreamsaver account along with their protection plan premiums. Normally, those cancellation penalties would be completely forfeited.
If a client is scheduled to travel with Tauck in 2021 or beyond, at present all of Tauck’s standard policies apply for its land tours and cruises.
For more information go to https://www.tauck.ca/travel-updates.
UPDATED AUGUST 12:Trafalgar has suspended all trips departing up and until Nov. 30, 2020. Clients who have a booked trip during this suspension period have a future travel credit automatically available to them for the full value of the land portion of their trip, to use for travel before Dec. 31, 2022.
Clients have two options:
Future Travel Credits can be redeemed with the company or another TTC brand (other TTC brands include Trafalgar, Costsaver, Luxury Gold, Uniworld and U River Cruises) on any destination or trip for travel before Dec. 31, 2022. For maximum flexibility, clients can also choose to transfer their FTC to a friend or family member.
UPDATED SEPT. 28: Transat passengers can now benefit from a COVID-19 Emergency Medical Certificate of Insurance. The insurance plan, offered through Manulife, is designed to cover emergency medical and quarantine expenses at destination, in addition to providing assistance if COVID-19 is contracted during the trip. Passengers who book a roundtrip flight from Canada to an international Air Transat destination or a Transat package to Mexico, Central or South America, or the Caribbean, from Sept. 25 to Oct. 31, 2020, for stays of up to 21 days, for departures between Oct. 1, 2020, and April 30, 2021, will be covered by the new insurance at no extra cost.
Transat’s 2020-2021 winter program features flights to dozens of destinations as well as packages to hundreds of hotels in the South and Europe. Earlier Transat announced that it had suspended all flights from Western Canada to south and USA destinations for winter 2020-2021. Transat announced on July 22 that its FTCs are now fully transferable, with no expiry date. As before, any residual credit will remain on file. The new policy applies to flights, packages and guided tours. However, it excludes credits received for cruises that are subject to their own cruise lines’ conditions. More information for Transat can be found at https://www.airtransat.com/en-CA/book/resumption-of-our-operations#%2Fresults.
UPDATED NOV. 3: WestJet Vacations is now offering refunds for eligible WestJet Vacations bookings. WestJet Vacations passengers who meet eligibility requirements may qualify for refunds to original form of payment. Clients can also choose to retain their travel credit in the form of WestJet dollars for use on a future WestJet Vacations package. With this option, clients will receive a bonus of 100 WestJet dollars per person, valid for 12 months from date of set up. Terms and conditions apply. To earn the bonus, clients must make their selection by Nov. 30, 2020.
SUPPLIER UPDATE LISTS:
For the latest list of Airline updates, click here
For the latest list of Cruise Line updates, click here
For the latest list of Hotel & Resort updates, click here