Coronavirus (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions

NOTICE: The situation with coronavirus (COVID-19) is continuously evolving. We will continue to update this page regularly.

Our staff in the U.S. and in Europe are working around the clock to gather and communicate the latest information about how these recent events might impact your travel plans. We ask that you bear with us as we work to quickly find solutions for each unique individual situation. Please know that we are doing all we can to answer calls and respond to messages as fast as possible. Your patience and understanding is greatly appreciated!

RECENT ANNOUNCEMENTS

November 18: Beginning on November 18, our physical office will be closed in compliance with the emergency order issued by the MDHHS.

During this time, our staff will continue to operate remotely during our usual business hours: Monday – Thursday | 10a – 4p.

The quickest way to reach us is by email– you can message individual staff members through our website (https://www.wittetravel.com/staff/) or send your email to . We will also be checking voicemails regularly and will return any calls as soon as we can.

Thank you for your ongoing support and patience as we adjust to the latest health and safety recommendations. 

June 15, 2020: Our physical office has reopened to staff and to visitors by appointment only. Please contact us if you’d like to make an appointment. Visitors will be required to wear a mask, follow social distancing guidelines, and comply with a few additional safety measures to protect the health of our team and other clients. Our hours of operation are Monday – Thursday from 10 AM to 4 PM

Vacation Department

Group Tours Department

Moving forward, our hours of operation will be Monday – Thursday from 10 AM to 4 PM. 

As we adjust to these new circumstances, know that we will do our best to respond to you as quickly as possible, and please bear with us while we seek solutions and options.

CANCELLATION PENALTIES FOR WITTE TOURS

On March 1, 2020, Witte Tours opted to freeze all cancellation penalties for Witte-operated tours departing in 2020. This means that all cancellation penalty fees* will not increase after March 1st, as was previously stated in each tour’s terms and conditions. Therefore, you can comfortably wait to make any decisions about your trip without fear of incurring additional costs. Learn more about our Peace of Mind booking policies.

*The cancellation penalty freeze noted above refers to the fee that Witte Tours would apply if you choose to cancel your booking. Special arrangements such as business class upgrades, flight deviations, or extended stays may incur additional penalties.

CANCELLATION PENALTIES FOR WITTE TRAVEL

If you’ve booked travel arrangements through a Witte Travel Vacation Consultant, any cancellations or changes may be subject to penalties issued by the travel suppliers holding your reservations. Airlines, cruise lines, and leisure tour operators are frequently adjusting their change and cancellation policies, so please contact your Travel Consultant for the latest information regarding any cancellation fees that may apply to your unique trip.

WARNING AGAINST SCAMS

It is an unfortunate truth that some unscrupulous individuals will take advantage of opportunities to scam travelers during times of uncertainty by preying on their fears. There have been reports within the travel industry that an anonymous phone number was calling travelers “on behalf of your local travel agent” to offer extended cancel-for-any-reason travel insurance for an upcoming trip. When the caller was asked to provide the name of the travel agent and the travel destination, the caller simply hung up.

Please be on alert for potential scams. If you receive any communication from Witte Travel & Tours that seems suspicious or unusual, we encourage you to ask questions before providing any information, or simply hang up the phone and contact our office for verification.

WHAT IS THE CORONAVIRUS?

Coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) is part of a large group of viruses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) list the following as symptoms of coronavirus, which may appear 2-14 days after exposure:

  • Respiratory symptoms
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Severe cases can cause more serious symptoms such as pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and kidney failure. (Read more about symptoms here.)

WHAT MEASURES IS WITTE TRAVEL & TOURS TAKING TO MONITOR THE SPREAD OF CORONAVIRUS AND ENSURE THE SAFETY OF ALL PASSENGERS?

  • Our team is closely monitoring the situation by reviewing all travel warnings, recommendations, and advisories from the U.S. State Department, the World Health Organization, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • We hold daily staff meetings to ensure that all our staff members are properly briefed on the most current information.
  • We are in constant communication with airlines, vendors, and our network of in-country partners for the latest news and updates.
  • If we have any reason to be concerned that your travel plans could put you at risk, we will contact you to discuss your options.

DOES AIRLINE TRAVEL INCREASE MY RISK OF CONTRACTING THE CORONAVIRUS?

Because the cabin air on an airplane is circulated and filtered every 2-3 minutes using HEPA filters, most viruses and germs cannot spread easily, so your risk of infection is not higher on an airplane. However, it is still a good practice to use antiseptic wipes on tray tables and armrests and to use your hand sanitizer before meals.

IF I CHOOSE TO CANCEL MY TRAVEL PLANS, WILL I GET A REFUND?

Refundability depends on different factors specific to your trip or tour. It is best to contact your Travel Consultant for your specific trip’s information. Generally speaking, it is unlikely that you will receive a full refund if you cancel your trip due to the fear of contracting COVID-19, even if you have purchased travel insurance. Cancellation due to government travel advisories or travel bans, or due to concerns relating to a viral outbreak, are not eligible reasons for coverage under most standard travel insurance plans. If you purchased a “Cancel for Any Reason” plan, refer to the terms of your insurance plan or contact the insurance provider to determine whether cancellation benefits apply. 

My travel plans were cancelled– when can I expect a refund?

We are doing the best we can to issue refunds in a timely manner under these unique circumstances. However, due to the high volume of requests that we and our supplier partners are experiencing, it may take at least 8-12 weeks for your refund to be processed.

WILL MY TOUR BE CANCELLED? IF SO, WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT?

We are monitoring the situation very closely, and are making operational decisions about tours on a case-by-case basis. In cases where we feel that it is in the best interest of our passengers to cancel or postpone a tour, we will notify all registered passengers of those changes in detail. Unless we’ve told you otherwise, you can assume that your tour will continue to operate as scheduled.

Do I need to make my next scheduled payment?

Witte-Operated Tours: If your tour is scheduled to operate as planned, continue to make payments as outlined in your tour brochure. All cancellation penalties for tours departing in 2020 have been frozen, so you can be confident in receiving the rest of your money back if your tour does not travel. Learn more about our Peace of Mind booking policies.

All Other Travel: Some travel providers have modified their payment plans to extend final payment deadlines. If your final payment is due within the next four weeks, contact your travel advisor to see if there have been any revisions to your payment schedule; otherwise, continue to make payments as planned. If your final payment is not made by the due date, you could risk your booking being canceled for non-payment.

CAN I RESCHEDULE MY TRIP / TOUR?

This will vary for each individual trip/tour scenario. It’s best to contact your Travel Consultant directly for more information about the options available in your specific situation.

WHAT CAN I DO TO AVOID GETTING SICK?

Coronavirus disease is primarily spread person-to-person between people who are in close contact (within 6 feet) or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It may be possible to contract the virus from a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then touching the face—but that is not believed to be the primary method of contraction. (Read more about how the virus spreads here.)

The CDC recommends that the best way to prevent illness is to minimize your exposure to COVID-19 with a few simple but effective measures, such as:

  • Maintain at least six feet of distance between yourself and other people whenever possible
  • Wear a mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household. The mask should cover your nose and mouth, and it is meant to protect other people in case you may be infected.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available.

(Read more about prevention and treatment here.)

WHAT HAPPENS IF I DO GET SICK?

If you develop a fever or symptoms of a respiratory illness (such as a cough or difficulty breathing), call ahead to a healthcare professional immediately and inform them of your symptoms. They will determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19 and will provide further instructions for preventing the spread of the virus to others.

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 or experience symptoms that you suspect may be related, it is important that you take every measure to prevent the disease from spreading to other people around you. Read more about what to do if you are sick here.

MY HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN OFFERS MEDICAL BENEFITS WHILE TRAVELING. DO I STILL NEED TO PURCHASE TRAVEL INSURANCE?

If you are planning an international trip, we strongly recommend that you purchase travel insurance to protect your investment and to provide you with coverage overseas in the event of an accident or illness abroad. Even if you have health insurance back home that offers some benefits while traveling internationally, the coverage may not be enough. There are three types of travel insurance that you should consider if you are planning an international trip:

Trip Cancellation – Trip Cancellation insurance protects your financial investment in your trip, such as the cost of your flights, cruises, or other travel arrangements. Depending on the specifics of the policy, it may provide cancellation benefits if you must cancel due to a covered reason as defined by the policy.  Some policies also provide a “Cancel for Any Reason” upgrade option, which provides more flexibility. Contact your Travel Consultant for policy details and for information about “Cancel for Any Reason” upgrade requirements. 

Travel Health Insurance – When you are planning an international trip, it’s wise to be prepared in case of a medical emergency. Should you need medical care overseas, you may be required to pay out-of-pocket for services, which can be very expensive. If you have health insurance in the United States, find out if your plan will cover medical emergencies or expenses incurred while traveling abroad. Ask if your policy has any exclusions for preexisting conditions, and whether your policy will make payments to hospitals directly. If your health insurance coverage is not adequate, consider buying a supplemental travel insurance policy with medical benefits.

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/before-you-go/your-health-abroad/insurance-providers-overseas.html

Medical Evacuation – Medical Evacuation insurance is especially important if you are traveling to a remote area or to a place where healthcare may not be up to U.S. standards. If you get sick or injured while traveling, medical evacuation coverage will pay for emergency transportation to a high-quality hospital.

Learn more about the CDC’s recommendations and the US State Department’s recommendations related to travel insurance.


SOURCES

CDC – Advice for Travelers: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/traveler-information-center

CDC – (COVID-19) Travel FAQs: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/faqs.html

WHO – (COVID-19) Advice for the Public: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

WHO – (COVID-19) Travel Advice: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/travel-advice

WHO – Updated recommendations for international traffic in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak: https://www.who.int/ith/2019-nCoV_advice_for_international_traffic-rev/en/

Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE: https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6

State Department – Before you Travel: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/before-you-go/your-health-abroad.html