“This isn’t because we simply want to take the money and run but it’s because huge amounts have already been spent pre tour to secure the hotels, buy staff airline tickets and secure the support vehicles and bikes,” he says.
“We certainly don’t get a refund from any cancellations we make.”
If a customer cancels their booking up until 90 days before departure they will receive a refund of all payments less a $200 cancellation fee.
Nomadic Knights Managing Director Alex Pirie says he is very flexible and would consider several options: Offer a full refund; postpone the ride until it’s safe to go and carry the money over; offer a ride in a different part of the world; keep the payment as credit for a later date.
For a limited time, they are offering a $US500 discount on their two-week “Rode to Everest” from Kathmandu, Nepal, on 9 May 2021 if booked by 31 March 2020, using the code EVEREST500.
Denise Ferris of World on Wheels says it is not an issue because they haven’t received any cancellations, not even from people going to Nepal/Bhutan next week with her husband, Mike.“But this is precisely why we insist people take out comprehensive travel insurance, so that they’re covered,” she says.
“If the destination country is declared a high-risk area by our government, the clients would then have a bona fide reason to cancel, and lodge an insurance claim for reimbursement.”
Coronavirus media hype
Craig of Compass Expeditions points out that the media hype does not match reality.
For example, their African trip is some 8500km from the only case of coronavirus in the entire African continent.
“In most countries outside of China it is business as usual in regards to the impact of Caronavirus on our tours,” he says.
“The one exception is our latest major expedition, the 100-day Asian Overland Expedition that departed from Singapore last week and will be heading through Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and hopefully into China and Tibet.
“The group are in Malaysia’s Cameron Highlands at the moment and contrary to the media’s reporting South East Asia has not been devastated by the virus.
“The issues will hit once we arrive at the Chinese border around the end of March. It is possible that the border with Laos, which we intend to cross will be closed or that the Australian Government will still be warning against travel in China, which is certainly possible.
“At that stage, if either of those things happen we will have to instigate a ‘Plan B’ which includes returning to Bangkok via Laos, Vietnam and Thailand.
“So at this stage we have two massive tours planned and payed for and only one will be used. The original 100 day itinerary has taken over two years to plan and the financial cost to the company is huge even if we do get to complete the original itinerary. But that pales in significance to the damage our reputation would take if we pulled the pin on a major Expedition, so we push on.
“The hype around the Virus has also seen a number of cancellations for our Central Asian destinations like Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan and Siberia, none of which have even reported a single case of Caronavirus.”
He says some customers have switched to one of their Australian tours, but international reports of the bushfires and recent flooding have also not helped.