According to travel agents throughout Australia, a communication sent to agents says that Helloworld owned Sunlover and Viva Holidays have reined in their COVID-19 deposit flexibility policies, reverting back to their normal terms and conditions, with effect from as early July 1, 2021.

It is anticipated that many other operators will now follow Helloworld’s lead, which means that deposits held by both companies will become firm and non-refundable, with the communication by Helloworld reported to have said deposits will also be lost if they cannot be used by the end of this June when the policy reverts to the previous policy.

The communication said that both companies have provided substantial flexibility since Mar 2020, allowing non-refundable deposits to be held in suspense, in addition to deposit availability extensions and other flexibility.

The communication says that deposits will be held in credit for the original clients to book and depart no later than six months from the date of cancellation, in addition to some agencies making false bookings to take advantage of the deposit transfer.

In the meantime, questions are also being asked about the legality of changing terms and conditions.

A report by John Alwyn-Jones, Special Correspondent Travel, and Tourism