UPDATE: 14th July 2020
It’s hard to believe it’s only four months since our government lifted its global travel advice to Level 3 and a few days later to an unprecedented (there’s that word again) Level 4 – Do Not Travel.
And what a four months it has been.
We’ve been working our way through postponements and cancellations and these are ongoing. We’re assisting around 1,000 clients through this process so it’s a busy time for us here at Back Track! There are still many of you who were due to travel in the latter half of this year or early next year and as operator policies evolve to include these departure dates, we’ll be in touch. Thank you again for your ongoing patience and understanding.
On a positive note, you will have seen over the past few weeks that we’ve launched a range of home grown adventures designed to explore our own backyard this year and we’re also seeing great interest in 2021 travel. Google tells us that holiday searches have increased 124% compared to the end of March so it seems we’ve all got itchy feet (and maybe a slight dose of cabin fever)!
In addition to getting us back out there and exploring, our trips have been designed to provide a much needed injection of revenue into local communities, many of which are reeling from all that 2020 has thrown at them. In this edition we’re also featuring trips from some of our partners that focus on travelling through communities who will benefit from travellers giving back. And as you’ll be enjoying locally grown and produced food and wine, what’s not to love?!
On the road and here at the office the health and safety of our team and our travellers is a priority. To that end we’ve developed a comprehensive COVIDSafe Plan with new minimum standards that emphasise increased hygiene and follow the guidelines of the World Health Organisation and the World Travel & Tourism Council. We’re pleased to say we are in the final stages of confirming that we meet the WTTC’s Safe Travels criteria.
We are still working on a reduced hours roster but you’ll find us in the office a bit more often these days and it’s great to be there!
Finally we extend our love and support to our Victorian friends and family as they battle the latest round of restrictions. We look forward to being able to visit all that this beautiful state has to offer in the very near future.
UPDATE: 21st April 2020
As borders around the world including our own began to close, we were working hard, at all hours of the day and night, to get our clients home. I want to thank Leanne, Matt, Jess, Sarah and Naomi for the long, frustrating hours spent achieving that. It was no mean feat in a lot of cases, especially considering our clients tend to travel to some weird and wonderful locations. The last of our far-flung clients landed back on Australian soil a few weeks ago and I can’t tell you how much of a relief that was for all of us.
At the same time, we’ve been contending with cancellations, credits and refunds to people who were about to depart. We’ve been in contact with those of you who were travelling in March, April and May, and for those with travel plans beyond May, we’re working on it and will be in touch shortly.
We’ve had a few questions regarding rules around cancellations. As this is an unprecedented event (how many times have you heard that phrase over the past few weeks) beyond anyone’s control, most operators are enforcing a Force Majeure clause, and as such are offering credits into the future. In the very rare instances where refunds are an option, it is taking time to get the money back as quite often, it’s already been paid to third parties.
As for the airlines, each has its own policy and many seem to change every other day. Some are beginning to offer refunds to those travelling up to the end of May, however for most, the offer is a credit for future travel. Due to the sheer volume of applications, refunds are taking up to 12-16 weeks to be processed, and as soon as the refund has been delivered to us, we will be transferring it back onto you. We are yet to hear about policies for June and beyond for the majority of airlines.
On a personal note, apart from the complexity of postponing and cancelling trips, we know how much these trips actually mean to you and how long you’ve been dreaming about them, planning them and in a lot of cases, training for them. We share your disappointment at having to cancel or at least postpone them, and we’re doing everything we can to make the process as stress-free as possible. We’ve really appreciated the wonderful support and encouragement you’ve shown us and want to thank you all so much for that.
UPDATE: 24th March 2020
As there have been a number of changes to the COVID-19 situation in Australia and across the globe, here is a short update to answer any questions.
For the small number of clients still out of the country, we are working as hard as we can to bring you home.
Many tour companies with departures in May have suspended all trips for the month of May, and many airlines, including Qantas, Virgin, Emirates and others have cancelled a large majority of their international flights, and in line with the Australian Government’s Level 4 – Do Not Travel bans currently in place. If your upcoming departure has been affected by either of these changes, we will be in touch to facilitate changing your itinerary. If we have not been in touch yet and you are concerned, please send us an email or give us a call.
We thank you for your continued support during these difficult times. Please take care of yourself, your friends and your family. We look forward to getting back to doing what we love in the coming months and seeing you off on another adventure!
UPDATE: 16th March 2020
To our Back Track Family,
With the ever-evolving COVID-19 situation most likely being front of mind for many of you, we wanted to touch base with an update on what we’re doing and how we can help.
Those of you with imminent travel will no doubt be aware that travel restrictions around the world are changing almost by the minute. We are receiving constant updates from our suppliers, industry associations and the Australian Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
With the volume of calls and emails we’re currently receiving, please know that we are doing our best to get back to you in a timely manner but it may take a little longer than usual. As you can imagine, airlines, tour operators and cruise companies are currently overwhelmed with an unprecedented number of inquiries, which means we can’t always obtain a prompt answer.
We are prioritising inquiries as follows:
– Clients currently overseas and needing to return home immediately
– Clients with departures up until the end of March
– Clients with final payment deadlines up until the end of March
– Clients with departures or final payments due in April
– Clients with travel beyond the end of April
Please know that regardless of when you are due to travel, we will get back to you as soon as possible and help you work through your options. Some companies, including G Adventures, Intrepid Travel and Peregrine Adventures, are offering between 100% and 110% credit for your upcoming trips.
We want to thank you for your patience during this period and are especially appreciative of the kind words of encouragement and support we’ve received from so many of you. If you are yet to hear from us and are concerned about your upcoming departure, please don’t hesitate to give us a call or send us an email.
Wishing you all the very best and we look forward to getting back to doing what we love in the coming months and seeing you off on another adventure!
Ray, Jim, Marianne, Leanne & the Back Track Team
4 March 2020
Back Track Adventures is committed to the health and safety of all of our travellers. We are here to assure you that we are monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak extremely closely and can provide the following advice.
So far, the majority of cancellations are within mainland China, Iran, Northern Italy and South Korea and are for travel until the end of April. Travel to Southern Italy, Japan and other affected areas has not been heavily impacted, however, we are continuing to monitor the situation closely and will be in touch with affected passengers if the advice changes.
In the event of a cancellation that would impact your travel plans, your adventure travel consultant will be in touch to organise changing your dates, finding you an alternative travel plan or working with the supplier/s to facilitate a refund.
Back Track Adventures, our travel partners and suppliers will not facilitate travel to any country classified as Level 4 – Do Not Travel by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT). Updates from DFAT can be found on the Smart Traveller website.
Unfortunately, travel insurance will not cover you for any cancellations or changes relating to COVID-19, as epidemics and viral outbreaks are not covered under most travel insurance policies. If you are concerned and yet to book a trip, you can contact us about taking out Covermore’s Cancel for Any Reason policy.
For more information about COVID-19, please see the following links: