British travellers could be left out of pocket as some holiday companies are refusing to offer refunds on trips affected by the closure of Machu Picchu…
The Lost City, one of Peru's biggest tourist attractions, has been closed while experts assess flood damage after the area was hit by torrential downpours and had to be evacuated.
Britons hoping for a refund on their holidays are facing disappointment as some tour operators are claiming the iconic ancient landmark isn't an essential highlight of the trip. Their argument for not refunding hinges on a loophole which states that companies only need to pay back funds if a trip is 'significantly altered'.
However, on some holidays a stop-off at Machu Picchu only lasts for one day, meaning the cancellation for this part of the trip is only a 'minor' change and therefore does not warrant a full refund.
Margaret Eynon, a retiree who had booked a nine-day Peru trip with Just You holidays, has been refused a refund on these grounds.
Her visit to Machu Picchu made up one out of nine days of the holiday, so the company has only offered an alternative trip in October with no option of a refund.
However, Mrs Eynon, who is unable to take a trip in October, argues that her main reason for visiting Peru is to see the ancient site and she would not want to take the trip without the visit.
"Machu Picchu is the main reason that people go to Peru, I have been wanting to see the city for many years," she said.
"I have been in contact with Just You since the floods were in the news and at first they said they would make sure we got there before confirming we would not be visiting just one day before we flew."
At the time Mrs Eynon was told that the company appreciated the alteration was a 'major' change but it has since claimed it is only a 'minor' change so does not warrant a refund.
Although it is currently low tourist season in Peru due to the rains, Just You is one of many companies affected by the closure of the site.
Other operators have cancelled or altered holidays since the floods, however many have offered a variety of alternatives to customers.
Laura Rendell-Dunn from Journey Latin America told TravelMail: "We tried to advise our passengers as soon as possible about the changes and, although we are not legally obligated to refund to customers, we have decided to offer it as an option.
"We understand that Machu Picchu is a real highlight of anyone's trip to Peru and want to ensure our clients have the trip of a lifetime. It is times like this when it can be beneficial to travel with a specialist company."
The adventure travel company Explore! has also offered a variety of options to customers affected by the site closure, including transferring to another date or opting for a refund.
Sean Tipton, spokesperson for ABTA The Travel Association, said: "The rule of thumb is whether Machu Picchu constitutes a significant part of the holiday or whether the trip has been advertised publicising that part of the trip. If so, then the company, under ABTA rules, would be obliged to offer a refund."
After TravelMail contacted Just You, the company confirmed it would give Mrs Eynon a refund after all.
A spokesperson said: "We have been working hard behind the scenes with our suppliers to see if there was any leeway on the amendment of cancellation charges they were imposing, we have made some progress and have been able to offer Mrs Eynon a full refund"