Foreign & Commonwealth Office Update
Update: April 12th, 2021
Global Travel Taskforce update
The UK Government's Global Travel Taskforce has announced its approach to safely restarting international travel. The latest recommendations involve the launch of a 'traffic light system', categorising destinations as Green, Amber or Red, based on their individual levels of risk and specific travel restrictions. Whilst Green destinations will be deemed low risk and therefore no quarantine periods will be required, any travellers returning from Amber or Red destinations will be subject to quarantine requirements either on arrival or upon their return to the UK, or both. Please be aware that all destinations will be subject to specific COVID-19 testing protocols, regardless of their categorisation within the traffic light system.
The specific list of destinations and their assigned category has not yet been released, however the Global Travel Taskforce has indicated that this will be available in early May. Whilst we do not know for certain, we expect that most of our beach holiday destinations will be assigned as Amber, meaning quarantine rules would apply upon customers' return to the UK.
We will continue to monitor the situation and will provide customers with an update as soon as further information becomes available.
We appreciate your patience during this time.
Whilst all international travel has been banned until May 17th (at the earliest), for customers due to travel on or after May 17th, as things stand your booking will be going ahead as planned. We do, however, appreciate that quarantine restrictions may present some customers with a challenge and that you may wish to change your travel date or destination.
Please see below for more information on how to submit a holiday change request.
Getting in touch
Our phone lines are open Monday-Sunday 9am-5pm, and our colleagues in our contact centre have been busy speaking to customers, particularly those whose travel is most affected. In addition to these core hours we are working Monday-Friday 8am-6pm answering questions and sending messages to customers who are looking for clarification on any upcoming holidays. Please be patient as we will contact all affected customers.
Can I change the dates on my booking?
If you have concerns about a future booking, it may be possible to change the dates of your holiday. To do so, you will need to follow these steps:
- Log into the 'My Sunshine' section of the website
- Click 'Manage'
- Click 'Request a change'
- Click 'Change dates'
- Select your preferred new travel dates and click 'Submit'
Once you've submitted you date change request, our agents will arrange your booking and send through confirmation as well as your new travel documents. Please be aware, however, that we do not set the prices for flights or hotels, as these are set by the airlines and hoteliers respectively. Therefore any price increase to dates being changed is as result of the pricing policies of these suppliers and not Sunshine. Rest assured that if there is a price increase between you booking and your holiday being confirmed, one of our agents will call you to discuss.
If you need to change your holiday destination, we can look into this for you. Simply follow the above steps to send us a message via the 'Making a change', then 'I wish to change the destination of my holiday' option.
What happens if my hotel is closed?
Where flights continue to operate, these are non-refundable. To protect package organisers and customers then where hotels are closed, package organisers are obliged to provide suitable alternative accommodation. A suitable alternative is deemed to be of the same or higher star rating (and quality), the same board basis and a similar location.
The relevant clause in the Package Travel Directive is as follows: Where, following commencement of the package, significant proportions of the package cannot be performed, alternatives offered should be at no extra cost and should, where possible, be of equivalent or higher quality than those specified in the original contract. If the organiser is constrained to propose alternative arrangements of a lower quality, the organiser must grant an appropriate price reduction. Travellers may choose to reject alternative arrangements only if they are not comparable with those originally agreed, or the price reduction offered is inadequate.
A change of hotel is not a major change that triggers the cancellation of the package and so where hotels are closed but flights are operating, suitable alternatives are being booked for all guests for the duration of their stay. Our operations team continues to deal with these in departure date order to ensure that all guests have suitable accommodation for their stay.
Will I need to quarantine when I return to the UK?
Quarantine requirements will vary depending on whether your chosen destination has been designated as Green, Amber or Red.
For detailed information on the testing and quarantine requirements within each category, please see the Global Travel Taskforce report or the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office website.
How can I get tested before I travel?
Many destinations will currently require you to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken before arrival. To find out more about the different testing options available to you, visit our COVID-19 testing before you travel page.
What happens if a member of my party tests positive for COVID-19 before we are due to return to the UK?
Following on from the Global Travel Taskforce's announcement regarding the new traffic light system, we are seeking clarification as to what will happen to customers in this situation. In the meantime, you can find up-to-date information on the FCO website.
What is the UK Government's position on cancellations?
On the government’s website they reference the following when advising how travel companies use the FCO advice:
“Travel companies and airlines often take our advice into account but the decision to cancel or reschedule a flight, holiday, tour or excursion is a decision that can only be taken by the travel company and the customer. The question of refunds is a matter that must be resolved between the customer and the relevant airline, tour operator or travel agent. We don’t dictate when travel can or can’t take place.” (Source: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-the-foreign-commonwealth-office-puts-together-travel-advice.)
We appreciate you may have some further concerns about your holiday and have laid out some additional FAQs below.
How are refunds being managed?
Where we cancel a customer’s package holiday because it can’t be provided, we will issue the refund within 14 days of cancellation, in full and in cash. Once it is clear that a booking can no longer go ahead, we will be in touch with the customer to explain the next steps involved in order for them to either change the dates of their holiday (if applicable) or to claim their refund.
We remain committed to refunding customers within 14 days of their holiday being cancelled, even if we have not yet received the refund for the flight back from the airline ourselves, despite this being the airline’s legal obligation.
Why have I not received my refund in full?
- We will first be returning any monies paid towards the cost of your hotel and transfer. This refund will be paid in cash and will be credited to the payment card used at the time of booking.
- Your flight costs will be refunded once we have received these from your airline. We are in contact with your airline to confirm that these also will be paid in cash. We are unable to commit to any time frame for this element of your refund as this is down to your airline themselves, however please be assured that we will pass this over to you as soon as we receive it.
How can I claim a refund for any extra costs associated with my flight?
If you have paid your airline for any extras (for example, priority boarding or additional luggage) then these will have been paid using your own payment card and the cost should have been refunded directly to you. If you have not yet received a refund for these extra costs then you will need to speak to your airline.
Do I still need to make my next instalment payment?
You should ensure you keep up with instalment payments as per the original booking terms and conditions. Failure to keep up with payments may result in the holiday being cancelled and subject to cancellation fees. Where we cancel your holiday in these circumstances, you will not have ATOL protection, nor will your holiday be covered under the Package Travel Regulations. If the information from the airlines then later changes and your flight is cancelled you will not be entitled to a refund as we will have already cancelled your holiday.
My holiday has been cancelled – why does it still show as ‘confirmed’?
Planning for your holiday
It is our responsibility to make sure that your holiday goes to plan, and that you and your fellow holidaymakers are looked after for the duration of your stay. Therefore, if – for any reason – your chosen hotel is unavailable, we will look to find you a suitable alternative, to the same or better standard and we will be in touch if this is the case.
I have transfers arranged whilst on holiday - what safety measures will be in place?
Our transfers partner has put together this useful guide highlighting the precautions and safety measures that they are taking to ensure your wellbeing whilst abroad.
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