If your holiday arrangements have been cancelled due to a natural disaster, you should look at the terms and conditions of your contract with the travel provider (e.g. the accommodation or river cruise business). The business should act according to the terms and conditions that were in place at the time you made your booking.
Check if the Ts and Cs specifically cover natural disasters. If not, you may still have rights to seek a refund or credit note under South Australian law, if the contract has been 'frustrated' by the disaster event and the business is unable to perform its obligations under the contract.
Where that occurs, you should be entitled to a refund, but the business can retain an amount to cover their reasonable costs. The costs must be justifiable and can include minor administration costs.
Neither party should be unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged.
If the business seeks to charge cancellation fees under the terms and conditions of the contract, you should carefully consider or seek advice about whether they apply in circumstances where you have not chosen to cancel your travel, but rather the contract has been frustrated.
If the travel provider offers you a credit voucher, it should have an expiry date which is long enough to allow you to use it.
If you think that you should be entitled to a refund (because the business is not able to provide the agreed goods or services in the contract) but you are only being offered a credit voucher, try to resolve this amicably with the business.
Travel agent bookings
If you booked through a travel agent, find out what the travel provider (e.g. cruise operator or accommodation provider) is offering in terms of a refund or credit voucher to make sure your travel agent is passing that on in full.
If you purchased travel insurance, contact your insurance provider to check if you are covered.
Contacting the business
Consumer and Business Services (CBS) encourages parties to resolve disputes amicably and fairly.
Write to the business and advise that you did not cancel the contract and this is not the fault of either party.
Let the business know if you are able to reschedule the holiday for a later date, to support them in recovering from the natural disaster.
If your attempts to resolve the matter with the business have not been successful, seek advice from CBS by calling 131 882. A call back option is available during busy periods. Alternatively, you could obtain your own independent legal advice.
Read more about your rights relating to travel cancellations on the ACCC website.