Earlier this year, when all was calm in the country, I booked a Saga holiday to Ethiopia costing £3,000.
On October 9, a state of emergency was declared. Now most of the tourist sites we intended to visit are off-limits. Yet Saga still intends to send us to the country. I am told I will not be able to claim on insurance if I chose not to go.
With Saga not cancelling and you uneasy about going, the prospect was worrying.
You were particularly anxious as another travel company, which had been going to the same places, had apparently already cancelled its holidays there.
Saga said it had made some changes to the tour itinerary for its “Ethiopia: An Antique Land” escorted tours in September.
When you contacted the travel company in mid-October about your holiday, which was due to start on November 2, it said it had adapted the itinerary in response to the Foreign Office advice at the time.
Disinclination to travel when the area is still open for visitors is not something that insurers will usually cover.
Equally, if you deliberately went to any place against Foreign Office advice, insurance would be unlikely to step in for any mishap while you were there. You would need to seek redress from the tour operator if a holiday were cancelled or substantially changed in adherence to Foreign Office guidelines.
Saga said that if customers were worried about a change of itinerary, the travel company might reimburse them, depending on the circumstances. This would be on a case-by-case basis.
The day before I contacted Saga on your behalf, the Foreign Office website on which the guidance is shown escalated to advising against all non-essential travel in many parts of the country.
Saga said it regarded its customers’ health and safety to be of paramount importance. The day after I contacted it, Saga called you to say it was cancelling all such trips for the rest of the year.
Saga said its priority around this time was to get any of its customers who were in Ethiopia back home and to stop anyone about to go from setting off. After that it called everyone else booked on the tour.