The UK’s largest travel firm has cancelled its beach holidays for the next five weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Tui said on Wednesday that all trips up to and including 14 May were being axed and its Marella Cruises sailings have been suspended until at least June.
It comes amid global travel restrictions due to COVID-19, which has infected more than 1.4 million people worldwide, with more than 82,000 deaths.
A Tui spokeswoman said: “We are constantly monitoring the situation and will start taking people on holiday again as soon as we are able to do so.
“At this point in time, nobody can accurately predict when that will be, so for the time being we will keep a close eye on our programme and continue to amend and adapt timings in line with the latest global travel advice.”
Customers who have had their booking cancelled “will be able to amend their holiday to any other Tui package holiday on sale” on its website, she added.
The firm did not clarify whether consumers would have their bookings refunded.
Under the law, travel companies must offer to refund customers within 14 days if their package holiday is cancelled but, facing many thousands of cancellations in recent weeks, the industry has warned that many firms will not survive if forced to do this immediately.
Travel industry body ABTA has called for the UK government to allow holiday companies to issue refund credit notes instead of cash refunds due to the high number of claims caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
:: Listen to the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker
This would allow customers to rebook for another date with protection from ABTA or ATOL. The protection would last until the end of July at which point, if the credit has not been used, a customer can get a cash refund.
Customers would have the comfort of knowing they will get their money back if they cannot use the credit or if the travel company collapses, while helping travel companies to stay afloat as they work through the large number of cancellations.
ABTA said on Wednesday that it is still waiting for action and guidance from the UK government.
Meanwhile, the Portuguese Hospitality Association has said around 85% of the country’s hotel workers will be temporarily laid off in April due to the virus’s effect on the tourism industry.
It said 93.8% of Portuguese hotels will or have already applied to be able to temporarily lay off workers.