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Distraught couple forced to wait TWO YEARS for a refund after coronavirus ruined their cruise plans

An ailing couple have been told they may have to wait two years to get a full refund for their dream holiday which was cancelled because of the pandemic. 

Jon Jones spent $28,000 on a European river cruise to celebrate his wife Shelley’s 50th birthday this year.

When the trip was cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis, the Newcastle couple were offered full travel credit valued until December 2022 or a 50 per cent refund of $12,837. 

But due to their lingering health concerns they are unsure if they will even be able to take their dream trip. They are now fighting to get their money back.

Jon Jones spent $28,000 on a European river cruise to celebrate his wife Shelley's 50th birthday away from Newcastle on the NSW Central Coast (Pictured: Jon Jones with wife Shelley Jones)

Jon Jones spent $28,000 on a European river cruise to celebrate his wife Shelley’s 50th birthday away from Newcastle on the NSW Central Coast (Pictured: Jon Jones with wife Shelley Jones)

The pair were planning to escape Newcastle on the New South Wales Central Coast for a river cruise with Scenic (pictured)

The pair were planning to escape Newcastle on the New South Wales Central Coast for a river cruise with Scenic (pictured)

‘We both have challenges with our health – we don’t know what’s going to happen in two days’ time let alone two years – it’s just too risky for some unknown party to hold our money for that long,’ Mr Jones told news.com.au 

Mr Jones is a retired Air Force officer who suffers from a fluctuating auto-immune condition.

While his wife has beaten breast cancer twice and could be struck down again at any time.

The pensioner said there is no guarantee they will be able to travel in the future because of their ill health.

The father-of-three has been fighting to get the money back since being told the trip was cancelled. 

Mr Jones was told by the cruise company Scenic he was eligible a full travel credit for $28,000 until December 2022. 

Mr Jones is a retired Air Force officer who suffers from a fluctuating autoimmune condition. While his wife has beaten breast cancer twice and could be struck down again at any time

Mr Jones is a retired Air Force officer who suffers from a fluctuating autoimmune condition. While his wife has beaten breast cancer twice and could be struck down again at any time

But when it came to a cash refund he was told they could only give him 50 per cent of his money back – about $12,837 – despite having bought ‘cancel for any reason’ insurance.  

When he contacted Flight Centre – the travel agent who had helped arrange the booking – he was shocked by their reasoning.

Email correspondence from a company representative revealed the provider’s decision was based on concerns over their own business viability during COVID-19.

‘You would have to wait until the credit is about to expire to get the cash refund,’ he was told. 

‘The reason they (Scenic) are doing this is because during these difficult times if they refunded everyone, they would not be able to stay afloat.’  

After going through the travel insurance policy he managed to claw back 75 per cent of the money except for $5,104 – the 15 per cent not included on his insurance.

Email correspondence from a Flight Centre  (pictured) representative revealed the provider's decision was based off concerns over their own business viability during COVID-19

Email correspondence from a Flight Centre representative revealed the provider’s decision was based off concerns over their own business viability during COVID-19

Scenic told the pensioner there were no outstanding issues and the situation had been dealt with under relevant policies.

Meanwhile, Flight Centre said they would be willing to advocate for Mr Jones and find out if the company had a hardship clause which could result in a full refund.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Scenic and Flight Centre for comment. Thousands of Australians have been struggling to get refunds on their holidays since the country’s borders were closed on March 18.

The overseas travel ban was this week extended to December 17.

Australian citizens and permanent residents are banned from leaving unless they’re a resident of another country, an offshore freight, boat, aircraft or essential worker or a government official.

Others can apply for an exemption from the Department of Home Affairs.

Australians will have to wait until at least December 17 before they fly go overseas again. (Pictured: a returned traveller at Sydney International Airport on August 8)

Australians will have to wait until at least December 17 before they fly go overseas again. (Pictured: a returned traveller at Sydney International Airport on August 8)

The overseas travel ban has now been in place for almost six months. (Pictured: A Qantas plane leaves Sydney)

The overseas travel ban has now been in place for almost six months. (Pictured: A Qantas plane leaves Sydney)

The federal government also has strict caps on arrivals back into Australia from overseas.

Coronavirus lockdowns and strict border restrictions are expected to cost Australia’s tourism industry at least $54.6billion this financial year.

New modelling by Tourism Research Australia predicts Australia’s tourism industry will be worth $83.8billion in 2020-21, some $54.6billion less than in 2019.

The modelling assumes the industry will lose $31.4billion due to international border restrictions and that domestic tourism will decline by at least $23.2billion. 

Coronavirus lockdowns and border restrictions are expected to cost Australia's tourism industry at least $54.6billion this financial year. (Pictured: The Sydney Opera House)

Coronavirus lockdowns and border restrictions are expected to cost Australia’s tourism industry at least $54.6billion this financial year. (Pictured: The Sydney Opera House)

In normal times, tourism directly and indirectly employs one million Australians, accounting for one in 12 jobs.

The figures reflect dwindling revenue for airlines, travel agents, tour operators, accommodation providers, hospitality businesses and small business owners. 

The data, compiled in May and released by Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham today, assumed that domestic borders would begin to open from June 2020.

It predicted that if state borders were to remain closed for the December quarter, tourism stands lose a further $9.8billion in interstate travel.

Modelling by Tourism Research Australia predicted Australia's tourism industry will be worth $83.8 billion in 2020-21, some $54.6billion less than in 2019. (Pictured: The Gold Coast)

Modelling by Tourism Research Australia predicted Australia’s tourism industry will be worth $83.8 billion in 2020-21, some $54.6billion less than in 2019. (Pictured: The Gold Coast)

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