Covid-19: FAQs

As we start to gradually come out of lockdown, our priority at Gapforce is to begin resuming our trips and courses around the world in a safe, practical and responsible way. To offer you a bit of clarity, we have put together a set of answers to some questions we have been frequently asked. If, after reading through these, you still have further questions, please feel free to email operations@gapforce.org and we will get back to you.

Thank you for your continued patience, understanding and support during this time.

Is my trip going ahead?

Gapforce has cancelled all trips departing up to and including 30 September 2020.  All participants with bookings before this date will have received an email from us informing you of your options.

If your trip is due to start on or after 1 October 2020, we anticipate your trip will be running as planned.  We continue to monitor developments and travel restrictions closely and will inform you as soon as possible if it becomes clear that your trip will need to be changed or cancelled for your dates of travel.

Gapforce closely monitors the advice of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), as well as other authorities such as the World Health Organisation and National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).  Gapforce will take the decision to cancel if the FCO advises against all or all but essential travel to a destination at the time you will be there, or if we otherwise have reason to believe that it will not be safe or practicable to run the trip.

What happens if Gapforce cancels my trip due to Covid-19?

If Gapforce cancels a trip, participants will be given a period within which they can re-book and transfer all monies paid to Gapforce towards any Gapforce trip departing before the end of 2022.  Transferring your booking will not only mean you have a trip to still look forward to, but you will also be helping to support our local partners, some of whom have been badly affected by the damage Coronavirus has done to their livelihoods.

We understand and appreciate though that not everyone is in a position to be able to re-book and travel at a later date, therefore we are offering full refunds in cases where we have cancelled the trip.

What happens if I no longer want to travel?

We understand there will be increased anxiety over travel.  We always follow FCO and local authority advice and will be putting in place additional health and safety measures that we hope will reduce the anxiety you may be feeling.  If however you really do not want to travel and wish to cancel, our standard cancellation terms & conditions apply, for which the amounts payable are:

  • More than 56 days before start date – Deposit only
  • 56 days to 29 days (inclusive) before – 50% of the full Price (excluding the Deposit)
  • 28 days to 15 days (inclusive) before  – 75% of the full Price (excluding the Deposit)
  • 14 days or less 100% of the full Price (excluding the Deposit)
Can I change my booking?

If you are due to travel in 2020, you can change your booking up to 60 days before departure and transfer all monies paid to Gapforce towards any other Gapforce trip.

If you wish to change any part of your booking within 60 days of departure, or if your booking is for a trip in 2021 or later, you must inform us as soon as possible. Whilst we will do our best to assist, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to meet your request.   Where we agree to meet your request, you will have to pay us any additional price applicable to the change as well as any extra applicable costs incurred by us and/or our suppliers as a result of the change. You should be aware that these costs usually increase the closer to the departure date that changes are made. We will let you know the amount of these charges before you decide to proceed with the change so you can make an informed decision.

If you are due to travel in 2020, the usual administration fee charged for changes will be waived.

Can I delay payment for my trip/course?

Please make payments as originally scheduled, or we may think you no longer plan to travel and we won’t be able to include you in our bookings with suppliers!  Rest assured, your money is fully protected and refundable in the event that the trip is cancelled or the company becomes insolvent.

What happens if Covid-19 prevents me reaching the travel location e.g. quarantine requirements, I am unwell or travel restrictions?

Our participants come from across the world and may have different travel and entry requirements imposed on them.  It is up to participants to meet and comply with these requirements before they can join the trip, therefore we recommend all participants monitor the travel restrictions and requirements they will need to meet for their own nationality and destination.  We also strongly recommend you speak with your intended travel insurance provider so you are clear on what you are and are not covered for in the event of such circumstances arising.

What if my trip is curtailed due to Covid-19?

Your trip may need to be curtailed if FCO travel advice changes after the trip has started, or if unforeseen travel restrictions and requirements imposed by local authorities mean we are no longer able to safely deliver the itinerary, or one similar, to what was planned.

The Gapforce leader will be on-hand to ensure participants are safe and to assist them with making arrangements home. After 3 days post-cancellation, any in-country costs will be the responsibility of the participant. It is therefore important that your insurance policy provides coverage for curtailment due to Covid-19 including costs related to repatriation and unused services.

What steps are Gapforce taking to ensure the health and safety of participants during the trip?

Travel will continue to have inherent risks and the decision whether to travel is a very personal one.

Whilst Gapforce is taking measures to reduce these risks, we cannot remove them entirely, however the safety procedures and processes we follow, and which have been externally assessed as complying with the British Standard 8848, mean that travel with us should be safer than independent travel to the same location. For more details about our comprehensive safety processes, please read here:

www.gapforce.org/gb/safety-and-support

We are currently reviewing all of our health and safety processes and protocols to ensure we identify and manage the risks that Covid-19 could directly or indirectly pose to the health and safety of our participants.  Information on the specific steps we are taking as part of this review are available on request.  Details of the additional risk management processes that will be in place on a specific trip will be shared with participants before departure, as well as during the trip in regular briefings by the expedition leader.

What if I need to self-isolate during the trip?

If you show symptoms of Covid-19, your leader will follow local authority guidance to ensure you get tested and receive appropriate medical attention if required. Yourself, and others in the group who you have been in close contact with, will need to self-isolate until test results are returned.

Any decision regarding what happens in the event that one or more participants need to self-isolate during the trip will depend on the specific circumstances and resources available at the time in question.  Gapforce will try its best to accommodate any periods of self-isolation within the itinerary, but if this is not practicable, alternative outcomes could include temporary withdrawal from or curtailment of the program.  Costs of self-isolation for the latter 2 options would be on the participant’s account, therefore adequate insurance coverage is important.  Regardless of the response decided upon, the Gapforce leader will ensure participants are safe and will assist with arrangements for them to comply with local authority instructions, and if necessary, support them in making arrangements for repatriation.

Will my trip be affected by the pandemic?

Travel restrictions and requirements due to the Coronavirus are changing daily, and differs by destination and nationality.  We cannot guarantee that itineraries will not need to be changed, or last minute changes will not be made if our leader assesses a situation not to be safe.  If any changes are necessary, your leader will be on hand to get things back on track as quickly as possible and to ensure you are having the best time possible in the process.  In return we ask that participants remain understanding and flexible in this evolving and uncertain situation.  Embrace any queues, delays and extra hygiene protocols as part of the travelling experience, these may give you as many memorable moments and talking-points to look back on as your time at beaches, sightseeing or adventure seeking!

If we do need to change itineraries or activities, we will ensure what it is replaced with is of equal or better value than the original.  We do not currently expect any re-routes or changes of itinerary on any of our trips, but if we do become aware of any changes that will need to be made before departure, we will inform you of these as soon as possible.

Is my money protected if Gapforce becomes insolvent?

Yes.  In accordance with the Package Travel, Package Tours Regulations 1992 all passengers booking with Gapforce (London) Ltd are fully insured for the initial deposit and subsequently the balance of monies paid to Gapforce as detailed in your booking confirmation form. The policy will also include repatriation if required, arising from the cancellation or curtailment of your travel arrangements due to the insolvency of Gapforce (London) Ltd.

For participants who booked up to 31 March 2020, this insurance has been arranged by Towergate Chapman Stevens through Zurich Insurance PLC.

For participants who have booked since 1 April 2020 (inclusive), you money is protected under Protected Trust Services (membership number 5482)

All bookings that are transferred to a later date continue to be protected by the same scheme as the original booking.

What can I do now to prepare for my upcoming trip?

We recommend that you keep track of the FCO’s latest travel advice for your destination at www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.  As well as any active travel alerts, this will provide you with the most up to date information on entry requirements and travel information related to the destination.  If you reside outside the UK, we recommend you also monitor your home government’s travel advice for the destination.

Make sure you know what travel documents will be required for travel e.g. visa, passport, health certificates.  It may take longer to process applications for these documents, so be prepared for delays and queues and apply for these documents as soon as you can.

Make sure you have adequate insurance coverage that includes cover for medical, repatriation, cancellations and curtailment. Check your insurance policy wording so you know what you are covered for and what you are not, particularly for claims relating to Coronavirus.  Make sure you understand the terminology and definitions of your policy, for example, how does your insurer define ‘self-isolation’ and ‘quarantine’, and is there a difference of coverage between the two?

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