Posted on 11th March 2020 News
New Information, and Our Thoughts PUBLISHED 15/04/20
Once again I need to start this update by offering further thanks to all of our guests, supporters and followers for the unbelievable support, kindness and understanding which everyone, universally has been offering to us as we all work together to get through these challenging times. I really hope that we can all come riding out of the other side of these events together, and stronger than ever – it has been incredible seeing how our community has rallied together, despite our separation from one another.
Andorra MTB World Cup Officially Cancelled
Sadly, yesterday Vallnord released a statement to announce the cancellation of the 2019 MTB World Cup round in Andorra. Whilst to be very much expected, it is still unfortunate news, as it signals that Andorra does not expect travel restrictions to be changed in the near future. The statement reads as follows: “We are sorry to inform that the UCI MTB World Cup has been cancelled. The current situation caused by Covid-19 affects us all and we must continue to fight to stop this disease. The celebration of this event could pose a health and safety risk to all the participants. It has been a very difficult decision but we are working to postpone the event for the calendar for 2021. As always, we want to thank the support of everyone who makes it possible, as well as the runners, collaborators, sponsors and teams.”
Our feelings on the current situation, and looking forward
At the moment the problem is that no-one really knows anything in terms of genuine, factual information – as a business owner within the travel industry I am trying to remain positive and look forward, but the lack of real information makes any definite answers almost impossible to give. We have received all sorts of questions from guests over the past few weeks as you can imagine – but we remain at the mercy of the situation just as much as any other business. We continue to do our absolute best to be helpful, flexible, friendly and supportive in unprecedented times – we want you, our guests, to know we will do everything we can to help make things easier not more difficult!
All we can do at this stage is make educated guesses based on what is being seen elsewhere, particularly in countries who are starting to come out of the other side of the epidemic, but even that is a very inexact science, as nations such as China have done way, way more than the UK, Spanish and French governments have in terms of testing, tracking of movements and monitoring the virus than most Western nations. The Chinese, for example, have done huge amounts of work tracking cross-contamination through movement tracing of individuals based on mobile phone cellular data information. This has led to Wuhan having apparently reopened with a degree of normality now, but even so, the last update I read was that residents are not allowed to leave the city, and no inbound non-national travel is being permitted, of course…
Andorra news reports suggest that around 30 people have died there – which in a population of only 77,000 people is hugely impactful – so my assumption is that the government will continue to be very strict, I suspect. Andorra has been on lockdown for nearly a month already, and nearly all offices are closed, so we are getting very little info back from our organisational contacts at the moment. However, the Vallnord press release suggests that the Park themselves made the call on the event cancellation…again, supporting the theory that there is currently no specific date in mind for the reopening of borders.
Meanwhile, as you may well have seen, this week the government in France have announced that their national lockdown will extend to mid-May at the earliest. Andorra is obviously heavily influenced by that decision, as they still have governmental links despite their independence. This suggests to me that it is highly unlikely the borders will open by June, although, to reiterate, this is purely speculation, and no official information is available. As a result of the offers and support structure which we have provided (see previous update) almost all guests for June and July have now deferred their bookings to later dates; many opted to delay to August and September, plus quite a number of people have decided to hold their bookings for 2021 and we have therefore transferred their deposits across to next year. If you are undecided, or want to reconsider your options just drop us a line and we will do everything possible to ensure you don’t miss out!
Meanwhile, in neighbouring Spain, to the South of Andorra, the government are making what seem to be somewhat unrealistically optimistic noises about returning to normal – especially considering that they have a death toll that is one of the highest anywhere. They have seen a downturn in recent deaths and new infections, but despite this it is hard to visualise the relaxing of Spanish travel rules at any time in the near future, and the international reaction to their idea of ending their lockdown seems to have been met with general derision by other governments.
Internationally, once things do begin to turn the corner with each country’s own internal restrictions, this does not necessarily mean that external inter-country travel rules will change either – as it seems logical that either every nation’s government will gradually need to approve which countries (or maybe even regions) their residents will be able to visit…and beyond that, bear in mind that logically, those countries will ALSO need to decide from which nations they will allow incoming travel as well.
Effectively it is all pure guesswork and speculation right now – but I can’t envisage lockdowns (particularly the UK) being eased this month, and probably not next month either…and then the travel system will be slow to recover too, for the reasons discussed above. I can’t realistically see much likelihood of any international tourist travel being permitted before July personally. I am also guessing that this is the reason why the World Cup has been cancelled: they are assuming it is unlikely that people will be able to travel to it.
Just like everyone else, we keep waiting for a bit more information to become available, but nothing is significant has been forthcoming…although I have a feeling we may know a bit more by the end of this week, as the momentum for further clarification is building in the press and social media…so we will just have to keep waiting for now.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 27/03/20
Our MOST IMPORTANT Coronavirus Update
Before we get into more detail, I want to give my most heartfelt thanks to all of our amazing guests – so many of you have got in touch with kind words of support and encouragement as the unprecedented impact of Coronavirus continues to sweep the globe. You guys are the reason I launched Singletrack Safari a decade ago, and your belief in us and your positivity has staggered me – thanks so, so much to every single person who is helping us stay strong each and every day.
For our very small team here at Singletrack Safari the current situation is crushingly upsetting, and creates huge amounts of uncertainty in our lives as a guiding team – so reading your supportive words, messages and emails is genuinely helping keep a smile on our faces in these really tough times.
We are deeply thankful to you all that not a single person booked for a trip this summer has contacted us with anything other than positive wishes and messages. No-one has cancelled, no-one has complained, and everyone has been so staggeringly understanding of what an incredibly difficult situation this has placed our company in.
Therefore, as you will see, we are going to make some options available to you in order to support you, our guests. Life is currently very tough, without the added stress of losing your holiday – so anything we can do to help you a bit seems the least we can do. We are all in this together, so we want to show how much we truly appreciate that you have chosen to book or enquire with us.
Singletrack Safari genuinely is a very small, rider-owned company – in fact, away from the riding season we operate as a sole-trader, self-employed business. We may have a great presence online, but we are a tiny company in reality! During the season we have our team of guides on board too – but the stresses which the outbreak has placed upon all our team members as we approach a summer of uncertainty is absolutely immense. As you can probably imagine we are very worried about our ability to simply put food on the table and keep a roof over our heads right now. As I have said before, we will survive, but the short-term future could be very tough for us, in all honesty. Fortunately, it is the small nature of our company that means we should be able to survive this storm, as we have very small fixed overheads in comparison to large holiday companies.
As a self-employed business owner, I am having to be incredibly cautious with what steps and decisions we make as we move towards a very uncertain summer. Simply put, without Singletrack Safari I have no income – and, having spent the last 10 years of my life building this business into one of the best-loved MTB holiday companies in Europe, I am determined that we will survive these challenges, and continue to ride epic, dusty trails with you all for many years into the future.
I like to think that we have a very strong code of ethics as a company, which we always try to reflect at every stage of your booking; from the very first enquiry to the last day of riding we work incredibly hard to give you the best, most professional and supportive service in the MTB holiday industry. And we want to continue to do so as we all fight to overcome this unprecedented global event.
Governments across the planet are continually increasing the measures which we must all take in order to control the spread of the virus, to reduce the impact on healthcare systems and to pave a way for a return to normality at a point sooner rather than later in the future. However, we all continue to play a guessing game as to how quickly the tide will begin to turn. There are some indications of steps back towards pre-viral outbreak life in China and other early-infected regions – these will no doubt pave the way for global planning as this experimentation progresses. However here in Europe we are still very much experiencing the worst of the turmoil, disruption and complication of our day-to-day lives.
This week the UK government followed the lead of much of mainland Europe, and enforced a full lockdown on day-to-day life, with a few concessions to allow citizens to get essential supplies and basic exercise. It cannot be long before other countries whose infection rates still continue to wildly escalate impose even more stringent rules.
We recognise that we are fortunate enough to ride with guests from all over the planet every year – and whilst many of our guests are from the UK, we also have a large percentage of bookings from all over the World. Whilst Europe is heading into the next phases of controlling the pandemic, other countries and regions are at different stages. As a result, we now need to take an adaptive approach so that we ensure our guests have some options in order to make tough decisions on the summer ahead.
As I have said from the outset, it remains my great hope that you will be able to travel to us in Andorra for the holiday which you have booked – but it now seems very probable that even if some countries lift travel limitations before your trip dates, others may be at other stages of outbreak control. Basically, none of us know what the next few weeks and months hold.
As a result, we are taking the following steps, effective immediately:
As I am sure you can see, we are working incredibly hard to relieve some of the pressure of this situation for our guests, and we are also trying to make sure that no-one loses out unnecessarily, whilst also making sure Singletrack Safari can continue to run amazing trips in the future!
WHAT TO DO NOW – ALL bookings require an urgent response please.
Once again, I really want to let every one of our guests know how much we appreciate your support in these times – and we want to continue to show you that we will look after you throughout this crisis however we possibly can. Hopefully these options will give you some hope for the future, release a few worries from your day-to-day life at the moment, and support you in staying safe and healthy. Many airlines are now offering free or cheap ways of amending flight bookings too – so you can now easily ensure you have a great trip in your future, whilst removing doubt, worry and reducing your risks. For sure this will be the most challenging year in the history of Singletrack Safari – we want to express our deep gratitude that you guys are helping us survive it safely too.
Stay calm, stay positive and remember that our amazing mountains and trails will still be there once we have all got through this. You don’t need to miss out, but we will all need to work together, make some sacrifices, be understanding, and continue to fight until we put these challenging times behind us and can get back to sharing our love and passion for riding our bikes together again.
Above all, please keep healthy and happy – those trails are going to feel all the more well-earned once this is all over!
Once again, my heartfelt thanks,
MartinBack to Top
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 17/03/20
We now intend to update this page of our website on a regular basis with the latest updates on our position – it will be kept updated as we learn more, or as the situation evolves
As you can probably imagine things are very confusing, concerning and ever-changing for all of us at the moment. We are constantly monitoring the news and governmental positions both at home and abroad – but, as the news events of the past few days have shown us, things can change hugely and suddenly.
We are trying very hard to remain calm and positive – as this pandemic clearly has enormous and possibly catastrophic implications for the entire travel industry. We are in the fortunate position of actually being a very small company (during the off-season we are just two people, one of whom is part-time!) so we don’t have huge overheads to maintain at the moment, and are therefore not at immediate financial risk, unlike many large travel companies. Even if we have an incredibly tough year we will continue with Singletrack Safari beyond 2020 and into the future – but the Covid 19 situation could have a huge impact on all of us around the world.
Today (17/03/20) the UK Foreign Office has finally made some solid decisions, and provided an official position on international travel; one that should allow people to claim on travel insurance if they are likely to lose out https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51615412 However, as it stands, this is only really going to be recognised as relevant to the next few weeks, as the situation will no doubt change. Currently all non-essential travel is not advised – they will review this position again shortly though, no doubt. Please remember that travel insurance policies are dependant upon these sorts of statements, so it is worth remaining aware of what your travel insurance policy covers. However, it seems that most policies will cover any trips booked prior to last week, when Coronavirus was first categorised as a “known event”. There is a lot of inaccurate information circulating around the topic of travel insurance at the moment – please check the facts with your own policy provider. Although we fully intend to operate staying aware of the essentials of your travel policy cover is clearly very sensible at the moment.
Currently the Andorran, French and Spanish borders are temporarily closed for all but essential travel – again, this is being described as a temporary measure. We will continue to monitor the situation and update this page.
As it stands we are continuing to work towards our season happening as planned – but the problem is that it’s impossible to know what is happening next week, and even less so regarding a specific point in several months’ time. As a company we cannot afford to *not* operate – so we are not cancelling any trips, but we have only the same information as everyone else about precisely what the future holds. We have to hope that the current non-travel measures are short-term, and can be safely reversed shortly so that borders reopen, and tourism will once again be will be allowed – letting people travel to Andorra as normal once the season starts in early June. So long as you can get there we have every intention of being ready and waiting to meet you!
Remember that there genuinely is positive news out there – but it is not being reported very clearly amongst the mass panic being caused by our UK news and media. For example, the number of new cases being reported in China is now reportedly declining, and therefore appears to have peaked – so there is still plenty of cause for hope. If you are feeling worried about Coronavirus you might find this article interesting https://theconversation.com/coronavirus-ten-reasons-why-you-ought-not-to-panic-132941
We are just as desperate as everyone else is to know what the future holds – but all we can really do is remain positive, and continue as normal as best we can. Although this is now going to be an exceptionally tough year for our business Singletrack Safari will make it out of the other side, I am absolutely certain. Please stay healthy, stay positive yet mindful, and hopefully we will start to progress back towards normality before the season is due to begin.
"...the most perfect sun-dappled loamy singletrack any of us had ever ridden."
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