Icaraizinho, Brazil - we will be updating this guide through the year when Brazil re-opens its borders. Of course a travel agent can tell you more! PHOTO: Sportif Travel

As the situation is still very loose when it comes to what Covid-19 has coming for us round the next corner, if you're serious about booking a holiday, there's never been a better time to trust your booking with an ATOL bonded travel agent. Here are a few reasons why

Who can say what the situation will be next week, next month or next season, even in our own countries where this pandemic is concerned. So you'll need a crystal ball to be able to predict if a third, fourth or fifth wave might hit somewhere hundreds or thousands of miles away by the time you're supposed to be there on holiday. We've liaised with three very reputable, long standing specialist kitesurfing holiday travel agents this issue. Despite them all having had a very difficult year of change and re-grouping, they are now in a strong position when it comes to being able to offer vital assistance travellers with their booking arrangements. The first and main advantage is that when you book with an agent, you'll only be dealing with one company, making one transaction and will always have a contact to help you out with any queries as you close in on your departure date. ATOL bonded tour operators are offering flexible booking terms as well as up to 100% refunds if you're unable to travel for any reason, even up to very close to your departure date. Jane Faughan of Sportif Travel says, “Many of our customers have rebooked their holidays over the past year, at the same price. We look to offer those booking new holidays the option to cancel right up to the last minute, or rebook to a later date at the same price. We have negotiated special terms with many of our suppliers to allow for the maximum flexibility for the benefit of our customers.” Marcus Bull reflects a similar set up at Planet Kitesurf Holidays, “As well as very low deposit requirements of just £50 per person, we also offer free changes or cancellation of your accommodation up until 1-4 week prior to departure (or credit refund within this period). If your holiday is cancelled you can either defer to a future date free of charge, or you can have a full refund.” Your money is also safe, as Marcus continues, “As well as being ATOL bonded, Planet Travel operate a Trust Account overseen by the Travel Trust Association. This means all funds that a customer pays does not come to us, but instead goes to a TTA Trust Account. We do not have direct access to your funds until AFTER you compete your trip. There is no safer tour operator business than this, with 100% financial security.” By the way, these agents have been busy - Planet have even launched a sister site, Adventrus, that allows you to book everything (including your kite lessons) through the site and is focused at travellers looking to keep their holiday on budget - have a look here.

St. Regis Hotel, Le Morne. Although Mauritius isn't open for travel as yet, Marcus from Planet has a feeling that it could be coming available after July and that more destinations will open for winter 2021 / 22. “A slow build-up of travel, rather than a big bang!” he says. “We have a lot of clients who are ready to book amazing holidays, so the demand is really there. As a travel company it is of course challenging in many ways; having such latent demand and having to wait...”. Le Morne always looks better with kiters out front, too! Soon they'll return... hopefully!

Beyond that, with the price of flights and accommodation increasing rapidly as the days tick by and we head towards peak season and (hopefully) more freedom, not only have these agents negotiated special terms with many of their suppliers to ensure maximum booking flexibility, they can also ensure better flight prices than you may find online in some cases, too. Surely an indication of how reliant the industry is becoming on agents to pulling the market together and adding customer confidence. If you're finding the whole exercise of understanding exactly what type of Covid tests you need for different locations, when to take them and how many you'll need, these are also the details that agents will be able to offer guidance on. It's worth regularly checking out their websites for the latest best price deals too, as well as news of new locations opening up and upcoming government advisories so you can book with more confidence and save yourself a lot of research time. KiteWorldWide also have clever Covid-travel search window that allows you to enter your country of departure and the site will then tell you necessary rules, regulations, or whether indeed the country you want to fly to even has its borders open for you. Find it here.


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