Coronavirus: Tour operators answer the most common questions

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The corona virus has brought public life to a standstill in many parts of the world. Many people are particularly unsettled when it comes to travel: can you still travel in times of quarantine, border closings and travel warnings?

Many holidaymakers are particularly concerned with the question of whether trips that have already been booked are still taking place. Georg Ziegler, Director Brand, Content & Community at the HolidayCheck vacation portal, answers the most burning questions.

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Can I cancel my upcoming trip free of charge?

Yes, if it is a package tour that should take place during the travel warning of the Federal Foreign Office. As long as this travel warning exists – currently until the end of April 2020 – the organizers must cancel all trips free of charge. This means that the holidaymaker will also get back the previously made down payments. Beyond the specific period of the travel warning, holidaymakers cannot decide whether to cancel their trip free of charge. In such a case, it is always helpful to contact the organizer directly to explore possible goodwill arrangements.

Currently, many tour operators are ready to rebook upcoming trips later in the year or to issue vouchers. But even if there is no travel warning, but unavoidable, extraordinary circumstances occur at the destination or in its immediate vicinity that significantly impair the implementation of the package tour or the transport of people to the destination, the holiday maker can cancel free of charge.

Should I rebook or cancel my trip during Easter or Pentecost holidays?

Since the Easter holidays are very early this year, organizers will cancel them due to the travel warning from the Federal Foreign Office if they have not already done so. This means that holidaymakers will not be charged for cancellation. There is currently no basis for the free cancellation or rebooking of the booked Pentecost holidays. There is currently no travel warning from the Federal Foreign Office for this period. Package holidaymakers are advised to contact their respective tour operator or booking office and to discuss the options. The organizers' goodwill regulations differ and are regularly adjusted due to the constantly changing situation.

What rights do I have if my trip has to be canceled because of Corona?

Depending on the time limit, the holidaymaker is entitled to reimbursement of part of the travel price. To do this, you should contact the tour operator immediately after returning, ideally in writing. However, the organizer is not to blame for restrictions that occurred during the trip due to unavoidable, exceptional circumstances, for example due to official orders such as the closure of sights or museums. For this reason, there is no basis for compensation in these cases. The same applies in the event that an officially imposed quarantine has taken place during the vacation.

When can I book trips again without worry?

At the current time, it is not possible to make a reliable statement. Depending on how quickly the measures taken by the federal government take effect, holidaymakers will hopefully be able to start planning their vacation for the rest of the year from Easter. In order to be on the safe side, it is generally advisable to book a package tour combined with good travel cancellation insurance. This type of trip is always covered by the so-called security certificate and protects the traveler even if the tour operator becomes insolvent.

All German package tour operators are legally obliged to insure the customer funds received. The entire travel price for the flight, hotel and other services as well as additional costs are covered, which may be due to the vacationer in the case of an unplanned return trip or a trip interruption. In addition, it is advisable to take out travel cancellation insurance so that you do not have to pay for your illness.