Saga, an insurance and travel company for 50 and over travelers, has issued an apology after mailing customers a brochure advertising a cruise “exclusively for Brits.”
Anthony Bale, a university professor, tweeted that his mother was “outraged” after she received the magazine, which detailed the characteristics of the cruise. He posted a photograph of the advertisement, which reads, “Exclusively for Brits. Exclusively adults only. Exclusively for over-50s.”
Shortly after Bale tweeted, the “Over 50s lifestyle” section of the Saga website went offline, followed by the entire website. It was back online later that morning, though it is unclear if the website went dark as a result of the promotion. Later, Saga apologized, saying travelers of all nationalities were welcome on its tours and cruises.
“We are extremely sorry for the error in the promotional leaflet that was sent to the database of one of our cruise partners. Whilst inside the leaflet it mentions our cruises depart from UK ports only, the wording that was intended to highlight this key benefit on the front cover was interpreted incorrectly and was wholly inaccurate,” a spokesperson for the company said. “Saga Cruises have a proud heritage of welcoming anybody over the age of 50, of any nationality, onboard our cruises. The error has been corrected with immediate effect and we would like to apologise for any offence this may have caused.”
Bale’s mother, Ruth Bale, 75, a retired probation officer, told the Guardian she was shocked when she received the brochure. “I think it’s a very sad reflection that it’s seen as a marketing point, that you’d want to go on a cruise exclusively composed of one nationality.
Meanwhile, Chris Gardner, chief executive of cruise.co.uk, owned by private equity group Bridgepoint Development Capital, also apologized for the error. “The wording is not a reflection of what we intended. It’s a mistake that I need to get to the bottom of and who allowed those words, which I can understand are offensive. All we can do is apologise for any offence that was caused, it doesn’t reflect our company.”
While Saga was criticized over its marketing message, shares in the company surged by more than 15% on Thursday as profits fell by less than expected. The company has said that Brexit has hurt its travel insurance business and made consumers unwilling to commit to holidays in 2020/2021 after previously anticipating an impact only this year.
On its website, Saga has encouraged travelers to book their holidays regardless of Brexit by announcing their Saga Brexit Promise. The company states that any holiday or cruise booked by November 30, 2019, will be guaranteed the price advertised. They also pledge that if Brexit affects prices later, they will not pass the increase in cost onto the customer.
Travel experts have warned that a no-deal Brexit could cost the overseas tourism industry billions over the next five years. Oxford Economics, a consultancy firm, has stated that a no-deal Brexit could result in a 5 percent fall in overseas travel and tourism trips by UK residents in 2020, while Euromonitor, a market researcher, said it would limit overseas spending by $5.3 billion (4.1 billion pounds) between 2019-2025.