I booked an 11 day, eight night tour to the Netherlands, Germany and France with an agency on November 4th. Check out date was December 21st and I made full payment on December 8th.
On December 19, the Netherlands introduced a strict lockdown amid concerns about the Omicron variant.
All non-essential stores and services, including restaurants, hairdressers, museums and gyms, have been closed, and that will last until at least the middle of next month.
France and Germany are also considering tightening their travel restrictions due to a growing number of cases of the Omicron variant.
I contacted the guide on December 19 to ask him questions about the situation in the Netherlands. He said they were checking and would give an update the next day. On December 20, the tour manager stated that we would continue the tour as planned.
That day, I requested the cancellation of my package, given the uncertainties and changes in regulations in these three countries.
I was told that I would incur a full cancellation fee for the price of my trip and airport taxes, which meant I would not be refunded. I still proceeded with the cancellation.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that Omicron spreads much faster than the Delta variant.
Being infected with the coronavirus while on tour would mean having to be quarantined in a foreign country, where the local health system could be overwhelmed with cases and leave me with little access to medical help.
I understand that the travel agency has to run a business, but in this case, is it right to put the health and well-being of customers at risk?
WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “A canceled event is better than a life canceled… Better to cancel now and celebrate later, than to celebrate now and cry later.”
I hope that the agencies will fully reimburse cancellations initiated by consumers who are in the same situation as me.