Traveller letters: Here's a sure-fire way to keep backpackers off Bondi

LIVE AND LET DYE

What a great move by the UK police who dyed a blue lagoon black to deter tourists during the coronavirus pandemic. Our local authorities should implement similar measures in Australia. The white sands of Hyams Beach, NSW, that attract busloads of tourists to the horror of local residents could be darkened to an unattractive grey. On Bondi Beach, coarse pebbles similar to those that adorn the French Riviera could replace the fine sand that attracts backpackers in their hundreds. The possibilities are endless and exciting.

John Byrne, Randwick, NSW

TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS

We travelled in early March via Doha to Barcelona to start a long-awaited holiday adventure in Spain, Portugal Morocco. Despite the trip being cancelled half way through (understandably but with excess trauma - a story for another time) Qatar Airways was very good under pressure. Ground staff at Sydney, Doha and Heathrow were excellent, informative and efficient. In the air on all flight sectors the crew were vigilant, attentive and very professional. We travelled in business class (a once-only treat), but others in our tour group in a different class experienced the same service. It is no wonder this airline has been named "Airline of the Year" five times running.

Maxine Flavel, Summerland Point NSW

OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN

"Travel is the only thing that costs you money but makes you richer," says Mark Twain and and I find it's true especially in relation to my six-night Australian cruise in February. However, one thing happened at Sydney Airport the day we departed that almost ruined the holiday. When my wife and I left security at the airport and headed to the boarding gate we discovered my wife, rushing and distracted, had left her mobile phone behind.

It wasn't until 30 minutes later that that we noticed that the priceless device was left there (and that was 30-minutes after we'd left the security). We went back to security where the officer was kind and lead us to the lost and found counte,r and then took a transparent sealed bag which contained a mobile. It was clear after the officer double-clicked the touch screen that it belonged to us, as it showed a sweet photo of husband and wife. I was absolutely grateful for his help and I also confirmed that people in Australia are honest.

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Lenny Chen, Taipei, Taiwan

PREMIER CLASS

One travel organisation that gets it right is Premier Inns in the UK. I had a prepaid booking for a week at one of their London properties for April, and three weeks before my arrival date they sent an email to their customers saying that all semi-flex (refundable up to 14 days prior) and non-flex (no refund) bookings would now be fully refundable up to 24 hours before the arrival date. When it was clear that a trip to England was out of the question, I cancelled my semi-flex booking and the full refund appeared on my credit card within minutes (literally). This isn't the first time Premier Inns has shown great consideration and flexibility. Two years ago I had a non-flex (no refund) booking for a week in London but had to cancel because my mother suddenly became extremely ill. Instead of telling me to call my insurance company, the reservations agent expressed sympathy and promptly processed a full refund. I call this top customer service all round.

Tanya Tintner, Halifax, Canada

EXCHANGE GRATE

Airbnb are doing quite nicely with the refunds they are giving and the decline in the Australian dollar. We booked accommodation in January for a Europe trip in June and paid the 50 per cent deposit in Australian dollars. This was the Australian dollar equivalent of the Euros charged by the provider. When we cancelled, we received the full amount back. In that time, the Australian dollar has fallen 10 per cent. So who has pocketed the difference?

Jim Chaplin, Baulkham Hills, NSW

EDITORS NOTE Unless you need the money back in your account, travellers will be doing themselves and the travel industry a huge favour by postponing or rescheduling rather than cancelling bookings. Refunds are the one factor that are threatening the survival of the travel industry, particularly travel agents.

USE IT OR LOSE IT

With most insurance policies, you can claim a refund for insurance not used, for example when you sell a car or house. Travel insurance it seems is a different beast. I recently took out travel insurance with Worldcare for a 10-week trip to Europe. Like a lot of other travellers our trip was cut short and I was back after four weeks. I rang the insurance company to see if I could get a refund for the remaining unused weeks. No, they said, even if you have to come back after one day, you lose the lot. Why is this acceptable?

Jose Coelho, Randwick, NSW

BACK WHERE IT BELONGS

If you want to keep the travel industry alive don't stop publishing Traveller in print - double it in size. This is the time everyone has to absorb travel stories as we are all working from home and suffering from complete isolation and boredom. I liked to make notes or rip out the newspaper article and on my next overseas trip pull out all of my research. Right now we all need to dream of travelling. I should be in Japan as I write this and will still be going once the ban is lifted. Keep our dreams alive and encourage travellers to support the industry in droves once the ban is lifted We are in unprecedented times. Bring the print Traveller back. No one's going anywhere. We're just trying to read where we'd like to be - Aussies are huge travellers and this will never change

Kerrie Newton, Glebe, NSW

EDITOR'S NOTE: While we understand your disappointment in not having our weekly print editions of Traveller at present, you will find new features and travel news daily here on Traveller.com.au We're also encouraging readers to share their own travel inspiration Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #travelleraudream to help keep those travel dreams alive. 

WHERE OH WEAR

I returned from Japan in mid-February only to find that my cosy cardigan purchased in Ireland some years ago had been left on the internal flight from Sapporo to Osaka some days prior. It was of sentimental value as well as being my "go to" woollen on very cold days. I contacted Japan Airlines by email with the details and I heard back that my cardigan had been located in the Osaka airport police station. JAL then sent me a form to fill out giving them permission to collect the item. The next step was a phone call from JAL at Melbourne Airport – they had my cardigan. Great excitement. Living some distance from Melbourne, along with current restrictions due to coronavirus, meant that I had to find another way to be reunited with my cardigan. I sent off a postal bag and hey presto in today's mail is my cardigan along with a handwritten note. Thank you Japan Airlines. You went way beyond the call of duty.

Sue Reilly, Ocean Grove, VIC

PARTY POOPER

I've been trying to get refunds for bookings across three platforms for a domestic holiday we had booked over Easter. All of the bookings had been paid in full. Airbnb was the easiest, although in our case the owner decided to take the property off the market so they were the one doing the cancelling. Stayz required a week's worth of e-mails to the property owner, to Stayz and to their parent company, Homeaway. Eventually they approved the refund (which we should see in a few weeks' time). We are now two weeks into our correspondence with Booking.com including e-mails and several phone calls and, despite the property owner agreeing to a full refund, Booking.com is still not coming to the party. Their latest requirement was for me to provide them with proof that Western Australia has travel restrictions in place.

Colin Campbell, Coogee, NSW

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