As the UK approaches May 17, the date international travel is expected to resume, experts from the travel industry have voiced their concerns over the alignment of the Foreign Office and Global Travel Taskforce when it comes to travel.
There is worry among the travel industry that the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) could continue to advise against travel to certain destinations despite individual countries being placed on the government’s “green traffic light system” list.
The reason for this is because the FCDO publishes its travel guidance, dependent on the risks imposed on British travellers. For example, the FCDO may advise against travel to a particular country if they feel the risk of British tourists becoming stuck due to Covid-19 is high. Additionally, if the FCDO feels the country wouldn’t be able to look after British citizens in the event of another Covid-19 outbreak.
Whereas the Global Travel Taskforce and/or “traffic light system” is part of a completely separate government advisory body, whose purpose is to provide recommendations on how to safely resume travel.
Should the two bodies not be aligned with their travel guidance, travellers, insurers, and tour operators will be left in a very difficult position.
Travellers may not want to visit a destination the FCDO advises against, despite being put on the government’s “green list”. Most travel insurers also won’t cover holidaymakers who travel against FCDO advice but equally don’t provide cover to cancel a trip due to government advice related to Covid-19, as the holidaymaker generally has financial protection for this from their travel provider. Therefore, tour operators will have to decide which government body they take their recommendations from and prepare for any backlash as a result.
Now, it’s worth being aware that while most travel insurance providers do not offer cover to travel against the government’s or FCDO’s advice, there are a few providers in the market that have adapted their usual insurance offering to cater to the few that wish to take this risk.
However, before buying this type of cover, it’s worth being aware that these policies come with many exclusions. For example, they tend not to provide cover if you need to cancel your trip as a result of catching Covid-19. They will also not cover you if you are denied boarding as a result of testing positive for Covid-19 on your return, therefore leaving you with the cost of two weeks isolation abroad and new transportation home. They also usually won’t cover anyone over the age of 75, anyone with any pre-existing health conditions, or anyone who submits a claim as a result of mental health issues.
So, if the advice is not aligned and you cannot move your holiday to either a different destination, or to a later date, and feel you must travel against the FCDO’s advice, we would strongly recommend that if you do buy this type of policy, that you thoroughly understand the terms and conditions and familiarise yourself with the risks of travelling against FCDO guidance.