Posted 25 March at 09.00
Distant Journeys has arranged accommodation for all 42 customers currently in New Zealand at the Sudima Hotel, Auckland Airport. This hotel has been selected for its proximity to the airport, giving the best opportunity to mobilise customers quickly, should an opportunity arise to fly to the United Kingdom at short notice. All Distant Journeys customers have been provided with a link to where they can register their details with the High Commission in New Zealand, so they are on the government list of passengers in need of repatriation.
As New Zealand enters level 4 of its plan to combat the spread of Covid-19, greater restrictions on movement will be implemented from 23.59 on the 25th March, 2020. With these extra restrictions in mind, Distant Journeys has been making arrangements and suggestions to help customers stay safe and entertained during the period of self-isolation.
Distant Journeys’ Managing Director, Simon Whittle said “New Zealand is entering a period of self-isolation. We understand how difficult self-isolation is for people in the UK, who are able to take advantage of the home comforts. As this is not the case for our customers currently in New Zealand, we are making every effort to make their stay as pleasant as it can be under the circumstances.”
“We have ensured there is complimentary WiFi available to each guest staying at the hotel. In addition, Distant Journeys have upgraded the meal arrangements from a room and breakfast basis to full board. Our friends at The Daily Telegraph have been kind enough to provide all our customers in New Zealand with complimentary access to their digital version of their newspaper. And yesterday evening, we sent all our customers some suggestions on staying healthy and entertained, including suggestions on streaming West End musicals for free, signing up to free audio book and subscription TV trials, and accessing online exercise videos.”
Distant Journeys has established a streamlined communication process between a group spokesperson and representatives from Distant Journeys, their partners on the ground in New Zealand and a senior manager at the Sudima Hotel.
Distant Journeys has set up a dedicated email address and emergency telephone number for all customers in New Zealand. Distant Journeys will be liaising with the spokesperson a minimum of once a day. Daily emails are being sent to all customers with updates on the situation.
With regard to arrangements for returning customers to the United Kingdom, Simon Whittle commented “As countries have stopped passengers from transiting and most airlines are in the process of grounding their services, it has become almost impossible for travel companies to find any flight options.”
“Whilst Distant Journeys will continue in our efforts in securing travel arrangements for our customers to return home, we urge the British government to act swiftly in arranging repatriation flights for all passengers in New Zealand, so they can return to the comfort of their homes in the United Kingdom at the earliest opportunity”
Those awaiting repatriation were travelling in two groups as part of an escorted tour. The first group (with 36 passengers) was the Very Best of New Zealand, which departed the UK on the 4th March and was due to finish on the 30th March. The second group (with 6 passengers affected) was the Magnificent New Zealand tour, which departed the UK on the 1st March and was due to finish on the 22nd March.
This is statement no2, issued at 09.00 hours, 25th March 2020. Further statements will be issued only when verifiable information becomes available.
Issued by Distant Journeys – contact Sarah Rimmer email firstname.lastname@example.org