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EU Commission Urges Vacationers to Accept Vouchers for Future Travel

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In an attempt to offset the potential losses for travel agents and operators resulting from mass cancelations due to the coronavirus health crisis, the European Commission is encouraging customers to opt for vouchers instead of refunds and consider traveling at a later date.

According to the updated European consumer protection legislation on package travel known as Package Travel Directive (PTD), customers are entitled to a full refund for holidays canceled as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, in efforts to keep hundreds of travel agencies and tour operators afloat, the Commission through its update is suggesting that travelers consider accepting a postponement of their package travel to a later date rather seeking a refund. Customers who do not make use of the credit note will be allowed to ask for a full refund.

Photo © AP images/European Union - EP

Photo © AP images/European Union – EP

“This new guidance will give customers the essential assurance that they will either get a holiday or their money back, as well as providing a much needed helping hand to travel companies through these difficult and unprecedented times,” said ABTA CEO Mark Tanzer.

Representing some 80,000 travel agents and tour operators in 29 countries, ECTAA welcomes the Commission’s move to update the directive, noting that it “provides clarification and concrete examples of the rights that customers are entitled to under the European consumer protection legislation on package travel”.

“We welcome the pragmatism taken by the European Commission. The consumer retains his right to refund but is advised to consider a voucher for future travel rather than an immediate refund, which will accelerate the financial demise of the travel agent. There is nothing to gain for the customer if the travel agents go bankrupt, as the guarantee systems in place will not be able to absorb all the refund claims of consumers,” said ECTAA president Pawel Niewiadomski.

ECTAA is now calling on EU member states to move swiftly towards ensuring these solutions are implemented while urging stakeholders, including organizers, insurance companies, travel guarantee funds, guarantee issuing banks, etc. to work together at a national level to include these vouchers in the guarantee system, in order to protect customers’ money in case of the bankruptcy of an organizer.

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  1. Sandra Fawcett (UK) Reply

    Frank Marella Olsen – that is a very valid point and it is clearly a stark reality. However, I can see the validity of the proposal in the attempt to preserve the travel company/airline’s revenue. It’s a tricky one. I have a holiday booked to Cadiz province at the end of April which I suspect is not going to happen and I would gladly rebook here and now for next year if I could. However, at the moment I can only reschedule for up to the end of February 2021. I cannot reschedule for later this year as I have other bookings which may or may not happen in mid-June and mid-September. I have looked at rescheduling in August (which I would never normally do as it is far too busy then) but the additional fare I would have to pay is extortionate (another problem I foresee which will stop travellers from rescheduling). So, I am left with cancelling under the FCO “only essential travel” rules for the April departure and waiting to see what happens for the June (Greece) and September (Cyprus) bookings; or wait for the airline to cancel me – neither option does anything to help the travel industry,unfortunately. If only we could reschedule for the same time next year(April 27 2021)! Finally, we are booked to go to the Canaries for Christmas and New Year and I pray that all this will be over – for all of us – by then, God willing.

  2. Frank Marella Olsen Reply

    The problem With vouchers is that if the Company goes bankrupt before Your next flight Your Money is lost.
    Your travel Insurance Company will NOT pay you any Money back if all you have to claim is a voucher or some bonus Points.

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