What year it has been - hopefully soon to be consigned to the history books!
Like all tour operators we have been working hard to support our schools in order to meet the challenges posed by the pandemic. When lockdown came in March we had not long returned from Europe at February half term amid the whisperings and subsequent regional lockdowns as coronavirus took hold. We liaised with group leaders as they were asked to isolate on return from their trip and when it became clear that future trips were not going to happen we worked with schools to ensure that they had refunds promptly, assisted with insurance claims and arranged for a postponement where possible. As the FCDO advice changed, almost on a daily basis and travel corridors came and went, we have kept our schools in the loop with up-to date advice and support.
Throughout this period we were also in contact with our suppliers so that despite the hardships, uncertainty and, in some cases, sadness we continue to work towards a time when our groups can once again resume residential trips in the UK and abroad.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE FOR SCHOOL TRAVEL?
We think it's quite bright!
- The Department for Education has said that residential school trips "could resume from Easter" and has promised to review its advice against overnight visits in February, with a view to permitting UK residential visits from Easter - with the caveat that the appropriate data must support such a move.
- It is hoped that residential trips abroad could follow soon after.
- The DfE is developing a roadmap for the resumption of residential trips that will provide a framework for the safe resumption trips with COVID safe protocols, scientific guidance and interim holiday cancellation insurance.
- Inspired Travel, as a member of the Travel Trust Association has partnered with two insurance companies that can provide COVID-19 cover at reasonable cost.
- The government has now recognised the long lead times in organising educational trips and the lag time between the DfE giving the green light resume trips and those actually departing.
- The Department for Transport's Global Travel Taskforce has pledged to work with school travel organisers to provide a framework of conditions that need to be met to support future planning that will take into account the epidemiological criteria, build on measures such as testing and take into account the impact vaccines in the near future, to indicate when schools can safely book and travel again.
SO WHEN SHOULD SCHOOL CONSIDER PLANNING THEIR NEXT TRIP?
- Taking in to account the points above and bearing in mind the demand from groups who missed out in 2020, coupled with a likely reduction in availability due to COVID protocols, it is a good idea to set the wheels in motion.
- This is especially true for schools who do not want to miss their preferred accommodation or specific dates.
- We have been encouraged when speaking with schools that there is an appetite and interest to make future plans
- WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT - CONTACT US WITH YOUR IDEAS AND WE WILL WORK WITH YOU TO MAKE IT HAPPEN