Several of the hundreds of young people who recently travelled to Spain for a party holiday and tested positive for the coronavirus have criticised the youth travel organisation who managed the trip for “leaving them to their fate”.
The eight young people who travelled together to Spain said they have been blamed for contracting the virus, whilst they assumed they were in safe hands with Jongerentravel, one of the travel organisations of which several participants became infected, according to reports from De Standaard.
“It’s a shame that we are now portrayed in the media as irresponsible teenagers, as we did take the initiative to test ourselves while we were away,” one participant, who had to quarantine upon arrival in Belgium, said.
According to the parents of one of the young people, they wanted to give their daughter a real holiday after such a long time in lockdown, and they thought it seemed a better option to let our children go on a trip through such an organisation.
The young people also thought compliance with measures would be respected during the holiday, however, upon arrival, the young people had a very different experience.
Jongerentravel said all the participants would form one Covid bubble, however, on the first evening, the organisation planned a welcome party which was meant to be solely for the young people, but other guests were reportedly also present at the party.
“When we mentioned this to the supervisors, we were met with jeers,” one participant said adding that during other excursions, young people who came from other Jongerentravel organisation were also present.
“When a third activity showed that there was no respect for the bubble there either, we separated ourselves from the rest of the group. We behaved more responsibly than the guides,” one of the young people who took part in the trip said.
Once one person started getting visible symptoms, the organisation urged the young people to get tested, but according to one participant, they were left to their own devices to do so.
The parents of the group of friends received disturbing messages from their children from the very first evening and said that when they tried to contact supervisors or the organisers in Belgium, they had no success.
“Since the return to Belgium there has also been radio silence. The organisation does not even ask how the youngsters are doing or if they have become ill. It seemed that they were not prepared for a possible coronavirus scenario,” one parent said.
In response to the claims made by the young people, Jongerentravel said it found it a shame that youngsters and their parents now point their fingers at the organisation and the monitors.
“We did everything possible to act immediately,” manager Katrien Corens said, adding that they would never have travelled to Spain with the group if they had known the Delta variant was spreading rapidly within the country.
Corens, who backed the group’s supervisors, doesn’t accept the claims made by the youngsters, adding that “young people can also lie to their parents and blow everything up in order to avoid their own choices and responsibilities.”
She also pointed out that the formula which this particular group chose – the Free Spirit formula – gives the participants a lot of freedom, and “parents knew what that formula entailed. You can’t expect your children to be free and at the same time always be held by the hand,” Corens added.