posted on 19/03/20
We have cancelled all tours and events due to depart in the next few weeks, and undoubtedly there are more cancellations to come. We are guided in this by the Foreign Office and UK government advice where we are not compelled by foreign government action or the closure of cultural sites. Please bear with us – we are working through the cancelled tours in chronological order, and the very considerable workload involved in closing them down means that the process may take a week or two or more.
We are not withdrawing tours and festivals when there is some hope that they will run or when there is no necessity or compulsion to cancel. We will contact you about your booking as we get nearer the departure date.
We are absolutely determined to get through this crisis and I want to emphasise that fundamentally MRT is soundly based. We started the year in the strongest financial position in our history. Forward sales are healthy, with particularly high take-up for our large music festivals. Meanwhile, we are finding time to work on tours and events scheduled for later this year and for 2021, for which we continue to take bookings.
Furthermore, we are governed by the Package Travel Regulations (PTR) which provide you with full financial protection. I might just point out that they also place us at a disadvantage by comparison with many other types of travel business because while we are obliged to credit clients in full when we cancel a tour, which is fair, our suppliers (airlines, hotels etc.) are under no such legal obligation.
Two things we do particularly well are contingency planning and managing a crisis. We have an unbelievably dedicated, capable and hard-working team, who with calm and good humour under considerable stress are just getting on with the job. We also have the benefit of the leadership of my successor as CEO, Fiona Charrington, who is doing a superb job of steering the ship through these dangerous rapids.
We are going ahead with the distribution of our Spring Newsletter, which launches a raft of new tours and contains articles by staff and lecturers (and an interview with me). Publication at this juncture might seem odd, but it went to press before the severity of the crisis became evident. More positively, it demonstrates our faith in the future. Current buffetings should not deflect a travel business from planning ahead – people will travel again, and surviving the current crisis would be pointless if we had no tours and events to offer you after the return to normality.
As Churchill is alleged to have said, ‘When you are going through hell, keep going’. Sadly, he probably didn’t say it, but I sign off with what was unequivocally his: