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An Important Message for Fellow Travelers
If you trusted me enough to embark on a journey with me, I trust you will accept, perhaps I hope, even appreciate my openness and transparency in posting this very difficult message.
On March 19, 2020, the State of Bavaria declared a disaster situation. Among the consequences of this declaration by the State of Bavaria, the administrators of the Passion Play made the difficult decision to postpone the performance of the Passion Play until 2022. In the communication to me announcing this decision was the plea for patience as officials sort through the many consequences and decisions now faced by the people of Oberammergau.
I do not know how else to communicate in this situation other than to be transparent and completely open...
This news was the first thing I read on the morning of March 19, 2020. To say that I was devastated by this news is a profound understatement. I will count this day as among the worst in my life. I compare what I felt to the emotions I experienced when I lost my 22-year-old brother twenty five years ago and the loss of my brother-in-law last fall. The feelings were nothing short of the emotions I have experienced in learning the news of death. I wanted to reach out immediately. I could not bring myself to write. I could not think rationally. I felt utterly paralyzed emotionally.
As I began to gather myself and process this news, I realized that the source of my emotions had much more to do with issues other than facing the very real possibility of insolvency. I immediately recognized, and felt the full weight of the consequences that would befall so many as a result of this terrible situation. Not least, the people of Oberammergau will lose so much. From all of the shops and craftspeople to the play performers and hoteliers, the people of Oberammergau face devastation, not only from disease, but incalculable economic loss.
All day yesterday I thought of you, our fellow travelers, who trusted me enough to believe I could deliver the trip of a lifetime. You are constantly present in my thoughts. You trusted me enough to not only reserve a place on one of our journeys, in good faith you purchased travel insurance in case your trip was canceled due to an unforeseen event. I trusted the travel insurance underwriter enough to direct all of your questions to NTA Travel Protect. I parroted what I had so often been told by NTA Travel Protect, "Mike, do not answer travel insurance questions. We will answer the travel insurance questions."
We all buy insurance to protect ourselves against unforeseen events. We purchase insurance, you purchased travel insurance, to protect yourself against an unforeseen event that caused the cancellation of your journey. Right now, there is so much uncertainty including whether NTA Travel Protect will pay your claim as a result of the cancellation of your trip. Please understand: Right now, there is a question with regard to whether NTA Travel Protect will pay claims that were the result of the Disaster Declaration in Bavaria. NTA Travel Protect is not the only travel insurance provider facing questions, and as a result of those questions, facing uncertainty. On Wednesday, March 18, a House Committee on Oversight and Reform held a hearing and sent letters demanding answers from three of the biggest travel insurance providers in the country-Travel Guard Group, General Global Assistance, and Allianz Global Assistance USA.
You, in good faith, purchased travel insurance to protect yourself against an unforeseen event like the one that led to the postponement of the Passion Play. I, in good faith, encouraged all of you to purchase travel insurance through NTA Travel Protect. As I have so often said, "Your purchase of travel insurance protects us both." To my mind, there should be no question with regard to whether or not you will be fully reimbursed for the cost of your journey. I am confident that is precisely what will happen. There should be no question, but there is a question.
I do not have answers to this question, yet. I will likely not have answers to this question for several weeks. So here is my advice, for now: Please do not file a claim on your travel insurance with NTA Travel Protect until you hear from me with the official word on the cancellation of your journey. Technically, for now, your journey is not officially canceled. This, I understand, could raise a question in your mind: How can my journey not be canceled? I will explain why later in another more direct communication with you.
Until I can get answers, I encourage you to stay healthy. Take care of your families. Take care of yourself. Please be patient. Do not worry. I am doing enough worrying for us all. I will be in touch as soon as I can.
Peace be with You,