Between July and December of each year, we hear from holidaymakers affected by extreme weather events such as hurricanes or other natural phenomena. The complaints that arise from their holiday usually amount to being sent into what has become a disaster area or that they were not evacuated from danger. The process by which the path of hurricanes can be predicted has gathered greater certainty since 2000' with the result that authorities in affected countries can plan with greater certainty. The problem for holidaymakers appears to suggest that travel companies or organisations do not appear to be able to react more rapidly to serious situations. Some holidaymakers suggest that a company is only interested in the minimum disruption to their schedules and they will base this upon the refusal to react quickly to a changed situation or a failure to get them out coupled with the expectation that in the midst of destruction, a holiday can continue normally! When planning your holiday, the following tips can help you to consider weather or natural events and how to plan for them:
1. Remember; the gloss of the brochure will rarely provide enough detail about extreme weather patterns - always read what the brochure says, but do more research!
2. Weather events can range from hurricanes to tsunamis to earthquakes to tropical storms, to tornados and many have a 'season when such events can arise;
3. If the brochure suggests that these events can arise, begin your research as to the extent of that season and decide if you want to travel to that destination at that time of year;
4. Remember; we are not used extreme weather patterns in the UK and you should remember that extreme weather events have a profound effect on all aspects of life after they have passed!
5. Once you have carried out your research, and if the extreme weather or other events is likely to occur during your intended holiday dates, check with your travel insurer if they will provide you with cover;
6. In fact, ask yourself if you want to take the risk of travelling to such a destination before you book – are there safer times of the year?
7. If you do decide to travel to potential risk areas, make sure that you register with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office LOCATE service – this will help their efforts to determine where you may be in the event of an emergency;
8. If you are caught up in a developing extreme weather situation, remember to use your rights contained in the Package Travel Regulations and get that assistance from your tour operator;
9. If you are about to travel to an area affected by extreme weather or any other natural event, then use Regulation 12 & 13 of the Package Travel Regulations to argue that ‘significant changes’ have arisen in your contract and that you want the Rights under the Regulation to be given to you;
10. Where you find yourself in the middle of extreme weather or other natural event – do not take any risk and above all follow the advices given to you by government, local emergency services and your tour operator!
For further information about ‘Risk Destinations’, visit our dedicated section for more information; alternatively contact us for further guidance.