Escorted tour specialist Shearings has stopped taking new bookings due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its business and uncertainty around future holidays caused by the government’s advice against overseas travel.
A statement on the company’s website says no bookings for future travel will be taken ‘until further notice’.
It was reported last month that Shearings had placed insolvency practitioners on standby as it sought additional funding to see it through the current crisis. This wasn’t confirmed by Shearings but its parent company Specialist Leisure Group admitted it was speaking to stakeholders, advisors and the government about its options.
Shearings says on its website that it is continuing to amend bookings for customers whose trips have been cancelled due to the pandemic up to June 16. “All affected customers can transfer their bookings to a future travel date or receive a Holiday Credit Note which can be redeemed against a future holiday at a later date,” it said.
What to do if your booking has been cancelled
To encourage customers to take a credit note, Shearings is offering an additional 10% and it says on its website that these notes will be financially protected should it collapse before the holiday takes place, however this might not be the case.
If your original holiday included a flight it would have been financially protected by the ATOL scheme, but it’s unclear whether this scheme also covers credit notes. The CAA, which manages the ATOL scheme, has not confirmed they would be covered, suggesting that they’re not.
If you holiday didn’t include flights it should be financially protected by Bonded Coach Holidays, of which Shearings is a member. BCH has said credit notes will be financially protected.
Shearings, like many companies, isn’t offering cash refunds for cancelled holidays, but under the terms of the Package Travel Regulations you have a right to insist on a cash refund if your trip included flights.
Given the situation, it would seem wise to refuse credit notes and it would be safer to rebook your trip if you can travel at a later date as any new bookings should come with the same financial protection as the existing holiday. Alternatively, if you paid for the trip by credit or debit card you could try to get a refund from your bank.
What to do if your trip departs after June 16
Customers whose trips are due to depart between June 17 and August 31 won’t need to pay the balance until three weeks before departure. “You don’t have to rush to pay us now, you can wait until there is more clarity on travel guidelines,” Shearings says in a statement on its website. “You do not need to contact us in this instance, this will automatically happen.”
Alternatively, you can postpone your trip, giving you even longer to pay the balance, by using Shearings’ online form.