The news of Zika virus outbreak, spreading in various parts of the world is creating vast concern in the tourism industry as well as the travelling community. The travel advisories issued by various governments has brought down the number of travelers to many countries, with government in the UK banning the pregnant women from leaving to any of the destinations remotely connected to the outbreak of Zika virus.
Although the Zika virus does not seem to cause many problems to most of the people, it may be linked to brain damage amongst newborn children born to the infected mothers. The virus may be linked to certain birth deformities and also harm the brain of the new born babies. For this reason, British tourists face a huge financial loss due to the pregnant women cancelling their trips to all Zika affected countries.
Impact in Europe
Generally, all the European Nations have advised their nationals not to travel to these countries. the scare is so high that countries like Britain have banned pregnant women from traveling to the affected areas in Latin America.
More than 40 countries are on the radar as being Zica infected and some of the most active ones are – the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic, Barbados, Curacao, Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Martinique, US Virgin Islands and the St Martin.
There is always an option for these women to postpone or switch their travel plans but how can anyone be too sure about the period for which this ban will last? And Cancelling the trips obviously involves a heavy financial loss! There is simply no way out of this at the moment, and hence it is mostly the cancellations that the tourists are resorting to since they are justifiably weary of taking the risk.
Although some of them have toyed with the idea of swapping their tickets with the friends or other family, many airlines like the British Airways do not permit this. On their part, the British Airways maintains that they encourage postponements and would be keeping a track of the situation in real time basis.
At the same time, while most of the hotels as well as Virgin Atlantic airlines have been more realistic and have offered full refund for their pregnant visitors, many tour operators are unwilling to make a sacrifice by giving full refunds.
The UK’s Health authorities have clearly specified that travelers should seek the advice of health professionals before making any plans of travelling to the affected areas.
New guidelines by UK Government
These new guidelines by UK government have come at the right time and makes claiming the refund somewhat easier.
The directives are quite clear – “If someone has been advised by medical professional not to travel to any particular destination, the travel insurance policies should cover all the cancellation costs”.
However, this is applicable for the trip as well as the insurance policies that were bought before such an advisory.
Despite this, some of the travel companies and insurance agencies trying to drag their feet on the pretext of reviewing all the claims based on the merit of the case.