The travel companies doing their bit to lift our spirits amid coronavirus outbreak


The travel world is in turmoil right now but hoteliers, tour operators and transport firms are making great efforts to help Britons stranded abroad or needing help at home.

Others are offering accommodation, food and online advice as we pull together to fight the global crisis.

A full refund

Budget ski specialist Action Outdoors has so far brought home 2,500 clients free of charge from the French Alps this month and reimbursed them for their holiday

As countless holidays are abandoned, cancelled or postponed, some tour operators have stepped up to offer customers a full, no‑quibble cash refund rather than a voucher for future travel.

Budget ski specialist Action Outdoors has so far brought home 2,500 clients free of charge from the French Alps this month and reimbursed them for their holiday.

‘It’s painful for us,’ director David Robertson says, ‘but with people losing their jobs and incomes, refunding them could make a massive difference in the coming weeks.’

Others are diverting any cancellation fees to good causes. Truro-based cottage-rental company Forever Cornwall has pledged to pass April booking charges on to its self-employed housekeepers (action-outdoors.co.uk, forevercornwall.co.uk).

Rescue flights

Twenty Titan Travel customers were part of aviation history when arriving at Heathrow on Wednesday after a non-stop Qantas flight from Darwin lasting almost 17 hours.

Forced to leave half-way through an escorted 30-day, £6,699 per person Grand Tour Of Australia, the group had to fly the pioneering route due to transit restrictions in Singapore.

Over the past fortnight the tour operator has repatriated more than 100 clients from far-flung destinations such as California, Brazil, South Africa and Malaysia. Refunds are on a pro rata basis (titantravel.co.uk).

Care packages

Passengers with Fred Olsen cruise ship Braemar, who flew into Heathrow last week, were welcomed with packages of essential items donated by businesses such as Costa Coffee, Kettle Chips and Twinings.

The liner spent three days in The Bahamas before Cuba allowed rescue flights from Havana, enabling 682 travellers to come home on planes chartered from British Airways (fredolsencruises.com).

Supporting the NHS

Short-stay specialists, such as UnderTheDoormat, onefinestay and LoveHomeSwap are making properties near London hospitals free to NHS staff.

In Spain, Casa Higueras, a boutique B&B near Granada, will give free short breaks to hospital workers once travel restrictions are lifted — colleagues and friends are welcome to nominate on their behalf (nhshomes.com, casa-higueras.com).

Hotels reach out

The Pig Hotels are providing free eggs and vegetables from their organic kitchen gardens to neighbouring villages

The Pig Hotels are providing free eggs and vegetables from their organic kitchen gardens to neighbouring villages

Across the UK, hoteliers have been donating food and essential supplies to care homes and the needy. In the South-West, The Pig Hotels are providing free eggs and vegetables from their organic kitchen gardens to neighbouring villages, while staff at Bespoke Hotels and Hand Picked Hotels have been delivering morale-boosting cakes and cream teas to local hospitals.

In Italy, five-star Grand Hotel Tremezzo on Lake Como has cancelled a lavish 110th anniversary party in July and is instead putting the budget towards ventilators and vital medical equipment (thepighotel.com, bespokehotels.com, handpickedhotels.co.uk, grandhoteltremezzo.com).

And the future?

Many of us are still eager to travel — a survey by add-on specialist Holiday Extras found one in four has a flight or holiday lined up for when the pandemic ends. Operators such as jet2.com and easyJet are now selling flights and holidays for this winter, while long-haul specialist Kuoni says ‘a steady stream’ of people are asking about honeymoons and tours for 2021.

The travel industry may have taken a knock, but no one’s giving up on exploring this wonderful world (holidayextras.co.uk, kuoni.co.uk).

… and for children  

Make a castle

Creative: Dromoland Castle in Ireland is offering online craft lessons

Creative: Dromoland Castle in Ireland is offering online craft lessons

Dromoland Castle, a magnificent hotel in County Clare, Ireland, has teamed up with artist Una Heaton to offer an online craft lesson in how to make a toy castle using materials from around the house (youtu.be/JJIufgi6cmsxx).

Play astronauts

Children learning French can brush up their language skills while learning what it’s like to live in a space station, thanks to a new online activity created by the scientific discovery centre Cité de l’Espace, in Toulouse, France      (cite-espace.com/astronaute-chez-soi).

Free art lessons

Got a budding artist in the house? The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, U.S., is offering free online classes devoted to portraits, printing, film and more (warhol.org/lessons).

Write to a loved one

Card-sending app TouchNote is inviting new subscribers to post a personalised photocard, with a message of support, anywhere in the world. Download in Android or IOS then enter promo code KINDNESS20.

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