Over 7.5 million holidaymakers in limbo over summer travel plans

13 May, 2020

Over 7.5 million holidaymakers have a summer holiday or other trip booked for later this year and, with Covid-19 travel restrictions still in place, many are worried about their holidays and their money.

Yesterday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggested that 2020 was unlikely to have a normal summer holiday season and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is still advising against all but essential international travel with no indication of when that advice may change. In addition, over 8 million people (15%) have bought tickets for events in the UK, such as festivals, shows and concerts, which have been cancelled.

The new research carried out for GoCompare has also revealed:

  • Nearly 14.5 million (27%) people have already had to cancel travel plans due to the coronavirus crisis
  • 8% said they have had trouble claiming refunds
  • 25% are concerned the lockdown will continue and prevent them going on holiday
  • 19% said the coronavirus crisis has made them not want to go abroad this year
  • Only 11% of holidaymakers arranged travel insurance when they booked their trip.

Travel companies and airlines flouting the law by failing to issue timely refunds for cancelled holidays and flights are only adding to customers’ worries.

Experts at GoCompare have compiled the latest information for holidaymakers, including what companies should be doing, what customers can do if their holiday provider isn’t adhering to the rules, and the protection offered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 if all else fails.


The research highlighted three main issues facing holidaymakers at the moment:

Whether to rearrange or take a refund for holidays that have been (or will be) cancelled

If your holiday is cancelled due to travel restrictions brought about by the coronavirus you should be given several options by your travel company.  Bear in mind that they are dealing with unprecedented levels of refund requests and are dealing with the most urgent cases first, so you may have to be patient.

You may be offered a voucher to the value of your cancelled holiday. Beware! A holiday voucher does not carry any financial protection and you could lose your money if the company later fails. Therefore, a Refund Credit Note is preferable.

Whether to keep making payments for a holiday you’re not sure will happen

If your holiday or flight hasn’t been cancelled by the holiday company / airline, you should talk to them about the payments you’re still required to make and find out from them what will happen if travel restrictions are still in place by the time you’re supposed to travel. If you fail to make a payment or you cancel the trip yourself, you may forfeit your deposit and any other payments you’ve made without any possibility of redress from either the holiday company / airline or your travel insurance. You may also be liable to additional costs relating to the holiday.

Options if travel restrictions are lifted, but you don’t want to travel

If you have decided that you don’t want to travel abroad, even when the restrictions have been lifted, you should talk to your holiday provider to see if you can delay your trip to a later date or choose a different holiday. Although they may not have any obligation to do so, they may be sympathetic to your request.  Travel insurers will not consider a cancellation claim where your holiday is available, and you are able to travel but have simply chosen not to.

Holidaymakers unhappy with the response from their travel operator should take the matter up with ABTA if the company is an ABTA member, as they should be covered by the ATOL protection scheme.

Sally Jaques from GoCompare Travel Insurance, commented, “This is a worrying time for millions of people who have travel plans for the summer and no idea if their holiday will go ahead. Holidays may be cancelled due to FCO advice, tour operators and airlines may go bust, some customers may not be able to travel due to illness and self-isolation rules and others may simply not want to go abroad for a while.

“Having the correct travel insurance in place may help those whose plans are affected and who aren’t covered by things such as the ATOL protection scheme, but it’s too late now to buy insurance hoping it will mitigate any of the risks associated with the Covid-19 crisis. This again highlights the importance of buying travel insurance as soon as you book a trip.