A Japanese travel industry organization clarifies guidelines to perform overseas travel tours amid the pandemic

Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA) announced guidelines for travel companies to restart performing overseas travel tours, as the COVID-19 travel warning has been lowered to Level 2.

For Level 1 and Level 2 countries and regions, a travel company can perform overseas tours on its judgements after looking into infection information in targeting destinations. In this case, it has to take necessary steps to prevent infection in traveling and explain the steps to customers when it sells a tour.

If necessary steps cannot be secured or if a destination is still in Level 3, tours cannot be performed yet. 

A travel company has to suspend a tour in action after it judges whether the contract can be followed or not, if a rapid increase in infection cases in a destination is confirmed,  if lockdown is enforced in a destination or if the travel warning is raised to Level 3 or Level 4 in traveling. 

In that case, a travel company has to return travelers to Japan soon at the expense of travelers according to travelers’s wishes. If travelers have to stay in a destination, a travel company has to notify their customers’ status to a Japanese embassy in a destination and their families and to return them to Japan as soon as a necessary flight can be secured. 

Guidlines for cancellation fee

A travel company cannot collect cancellation fee from a customer if it needs to suspend a tour before departure in the case of Level 3 or Level 4. If a travel company changes an itinerary, it can decide an increase or a decrease in expenses by itself, but customers can cancel a tour without cancellation fee if a tour itinerary is considerably changed. 

After departure, if a travel company changes an itinerary in traveling, it can decide an increase or a decrease in expenses by itself, and a traveler can cancel changed itinerary only without cancellation fee. 

If a customer cancels a tour, even though a travel company performs a tour following the prescribed protocol, it can collect cancelation fee from a customer as usual.

If a travel company is forced to cancel a tour after departure, it has to repay expenses on not-performed travel services to a customer. If a customer has to stay in a destination inevitably, additional expenses must be paid by a customer.

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