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fi­nan­cially pro­tected also added a crit­i­cal ad­van­tage. And there are le­gal pro­tec­tions, too. The tour op­er­a­tor or pack­age provider has a duty of care to its cus­tomers, so if there is a strike or some­thing goes wrong, it has to sort out the prob­lem and look after you in the mean­time.

Why would you book in­de­pen­dently when there are all these added pro­tec­tions? The con­cept of pack­age hol­i­days has been re­deemed, and Abta’s fig­ures sug­gest that more and more peo­ple are re­al­is­ing this.

The other four “trends” struck me as a mixed bag:

Our ex­perts make your travel their busi­ness

An in­creas­ing aware­ness of the con­cept of re­spon­si­ble tourism. In Abta’s sur­vey, 45 per cent of peo­ple said sus­tain­abil­ity is a key part of their de­ci­sion-mak­ing when book­ing a hol­i­day. This is up six per cent com­pared with last year, and the trend is mak­ing travel com­pa­nies more aware of prob­lems such as the ef­fect of tourism on de­vel­op­ing na­tions, and the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact of sin­gle-use plas­tics.

An in­creas­ing de­mand for “well­ness” hol­i­days. Abta has iden­ti­fied a 20 per cent in­crease since 2015. This con­firms a trend. Is there a lux­ury ho­tel in the world that hasn’t added or up­dated a spa and or­dered a batch of yoga mats in the past decade?

Tech­nol­ogy is de­liv­er­ing more “seam­less hol­i­day ex­pe­ri­ences”. This was pre­sented as a bonus for con­sumers – and tech­nol­ogy can make our trav­el­ling lives eas­ier. It has also made things much eas­ier for staff in the travel in­dus­try be­cause we, the cus­tomers, have to do work that used

JANE ARCHER

CRUISE EX­PERT

In the event of an emer­gency, a US visa waiver can be ex­tended, but you must act quickly

Since we re­tired a few years ago, my hus­band and I have spent three months in Flor­ida each au­tumn. We flew out on Oct 1 this year and, at the be­gin­ning of No­vem­ber, my hus­band suf­fered a de­tached retina. He had to un­dergo emer­gency surgery at a hospi­tal here and has been ad­vised that he will be un­able to fly for at least eight weeks.

We were due to re­turn to the UK on Dec 26, but now it looks like we shall have to stay be­yond the ex­pi­ra­tion date of both our travel in­sur­ance and our ESTA visa waiver per­mits.

Please can you ad­vise us on the best way for­ward?

QAGILL CHARL­TON

READER CHAM­PION

ANNE BEAU­MONT

I spoke to In­sure­andGo, which says that, un­der its terms and con­di­tions, if a cus­tomer has to ex­tend a trip be­cause they are re­cov­er­ing from a med­i­cal con­di­tion, their cover will au­to­mat­i­cally ex­tend un­til they are able to re­turn home.

It is not clear whether all in­sur­ers are this gen­er­ous. The Fi­nan­cial Om­buds­man Ser­vice (FOS), which acts as an in­sur­ance watch­dog, says that, un­der its re­mit to ap­ply “fair and rea­son­able” rul­ings, it would ex­pect in­sur­ers to ar­range an ex­ten­sion. The in­surer would be able to fix the price and terms, but if the cus­tomer felt the cost of the ex­ten­sion was un­rea­son­able, they could take their case to the FOS. I also con­tacted the US em­bassy in Lon­don to find out whether you could ob­tain an ex­ten­sion to your ESTA per­mits. US fed­eral law says that, if an emer­gency pre­vents some­one trav­el­ling on a visa waiver per­mit from de­part­ing the US within the au­tho­rised 90 days, they can ap­ply for a 30-day ex­ten­sion. Such re­quests must be made in per­son at the lo­cal Field Of­fice of the US Cit­i­zen­ship and Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vices (USCIS).

You should ap­ply for an ap­point­ment through the USCIS web­site (uscis.gov) as soon as pos­si­ble, tak­ing proof of your hus­band’s med­i­cal con­di­tion, in­clud­ing a let­ter from a doc­tor con­firm­ing that he will not be fit to travel un­til after the ESTA ex­pires.

You can also dis­cuss with the USCIS of­fi­cial whether it would be bet­ter to leave the US for a few days and ob­tain a new 90-day en­try per­mit. This is be­cause there’s a chance that over­stay­ing – even with per­mis­sion – might mean that you can­not use the visa waiver scheme in the fu­ture and will have to ap­ply for a full 10-year tourist visa.

Op­er­a­tors re­alise that they need to of­fer flex­i­bil­ity and have be­come more like travel agents

to

giv­ing your full name and, if your query is about a dis­pute with a travel com­pany, your ad­dress, tele­phone num­ber and any book­ing ref­er­ence. We re­gret that we can­not per­son­ally an­swer all the queries we re­ceive, but your email will be ac­knowl­edged.

TIME WARPVisit me­dieval Re­gens­burg on a river cruise along the Danube

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