Tour operator cancels August holidays amid ongoing coronavirus uncertainty

Aurinkomatkat had started selling package deals to Turkey, Spain and Croatia despite none of those countries being on the government's approved 'no isolation' list.

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File picture of Aurinkomatkat staff wearing face masks, Crete, 23rd July 2020 / Credit: Aurinkomatkat FB

Finnish travel agency Aurinkomatkat is canceling all of its August holidays to Spain, Croatia and Turkey – with Croatia trips also canceled in September.

Aurinkomatkat had been selling the summer sunshine package deals to those three countries despite none of them being on Finland’s ‘no-isolation list’ – meaning anyone who went would be required to go into self-quarantine for 14 days after they returned home again.

“Unfortunately, we have to make decisions in the short term. The recommendations of the authorities and the development of the corona situation at various sites affect our decisions” says CEO Timo Kousa in a statement.

“I am sorry that some of the information about the canceled trips comes at the last minute” he adds.

Holidaymakers can either postpone their trip, change the destination or get a refund, and customer service agents have started the process of getting in touch with everyone who booked holidays to tell them their options.

Fast changing situation in holiday destinations 

Aurinkomatkat was one of several Finnish travel agents to open up foreign holidays again – with package deals to Crete and Rhodes – after Greece was added to the ‘no-isolation’ list by the Finnish government.

The company also announced at the start of July they would begin selling holiday to the Costa del Sol and Mallorca in Spain, and to Antalya in Turkey.

“The starting point for all our trips is always safety, both for our customers and staff” Timo Kousa said at the time.

However the situation hasn’t improved as anticipated, and public health authorities in Finland have set a maximum criteria of eight confirmed Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population in the last two weeks before a country can be added to the quarantine-free travel list.

Officials have said that situations can change quickly, local lockdowns can be put into effect with little notice, and that travelers should always keep up to date with the situation at the destination during their travel.

“Finns or people living in Finland also travel to countries where the epidemic situation is worse than we are. Staying in such a country increases the risk of coronavirus infection compared to the risk in Finland” says Jari Jalava an expert from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL.

In Spain for example, where there has been a sharp rise of cases in the last few weeks, there are local lockdowns and new restrictions enforced in Barcelona, La Noguera and El Segria.

These new measures limit the number of people meeting in public or private; keep gyms and nightclubs closed; restrict bars, restaurants, cultural activities and sports; and forbid people from leaving homes except for essential activities.