Our work in Adventure Travel never really stops - especially when there is a crisis. Here we give you look at what goes on behind the scenes when our team needs to handle a crisis
Friday 18th Feb: There doesn’t seem to be a normal working day at the moment with demonstrations happening throughout the Middle East. Let’s see what today brings…
We have 2 groups heading to Libya this weekend, Leptis Magna Weekend (ALY) and Lost Cities Of The Roman Empire (LY). The FCO travel advice is not recommending against any travel to Libya.
The ALY is a short break – focussed around Tripoli, due to leave at 1130 this AM, the LY departs tomorrow and is a more comprehensive tour of the country.
0900 – Meeting with the Operations and Product teams to discuss the imminent departures. We have called the FCO and our representative in Libya to get the latest updates. The FCO say that they have no plans to change their travel advice, our representative in Libya tells us that the area in the east of the country is troubling him, but that all is fine around Tripoli.
We agree that the ALY group departing in 1.5 hours will be OK to operate, based on the latest information.
0930 – more calls are made to the FCO and I call other tour operators to see if there is any other news coming out of the country. A call is made to our rep in Libya and although the FCO have not changed their travel advice we take the decision that it will not be safe for people to travel to Benghazi.
1000 – in a meeting with Ashley our MD we decide to cancel tomorrows LY tour. Details are circulated around the company so that customers can be called with what will be disappointing news.
As a follow up we let other contacts from other companies know of our decision.
1400 – Carolina our Head of Operation is in London and has a meeting with staff from the FCO. There is no extra news from Libya.
1700 – we check the situation with our representative in Libya – all is fine in and around Tripoli.
Later today the FCO amend their travel advice to advise against travel to Benghazi….
Saturday: Hopefully today will be quiet, as we’re not actually in the office, but we have 2 staff, myself and Rohan manning the emergency mobiles.
1700 – Whilst shopping with my wife I get a call from the Operations Director advising that the FCO travel advice has changed in Bahrain. A quick check with the duty manager I see that thankfully we have no groups there, nor anyone planning to fly through.
The situation in Libya doesn’t seem to be getting any better when at approx 1900 another call from the Ops Director lets me know that the FCO have just changed their travel advice for Libya and are now advising against travel to the whole of Libya with the exception of Tripoli. Our ALY group are in Tripoli….
I call our rep who tells me that the situation is deteriorating, and so after a conference call with the duty manage and the Ops Director we decide to get our group back to the UK ASAP. Our agent is advised to get the group to the airport first thing in the morning (Sunday) and to get them on a flight to the UK. The group are due to fly back on Tuesday morning and so no doubt will be disappointed, but we all feel that this is the correct decision.
The tour leader breaks the news to the group and prepares them for an unexpected early start tomorrow.
Sunday 0700: Try to call Libya, but at this point communications have become increasingly difficult. I keep trying to call as does Rohan. At about 0800 I get a call from Rohan – the group have been put on a flight and should be back in the UK for 0900…
Whilst we are disappointed to have curtailed their holiday we know that this is in their best interests – the situation was so fast moving that judgements and decisions had to be made – we know that we made the correct one…I was good to know that our group wasn’t amongst the hundreds of people stranded at Tripoli airport.
Simon Grove, Head of Product, Explore