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Covid-19: Greece Covers Canceled Bookings with Vouchers Instead of Refunds

The regulation allowing Greek airlines, ferries and tourism enterprises (hotels and travel agencies) to reimburse customers with 18-month vouchers for bookings that were canceled due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, instead of cash refunds, was published in the Government Gazette on Monday.

The measure ensures that holidaymakers will not lose their money and will have the chance to use their booking towards another holiday at a future date with the same business.

The legislation also addresses liquidity issues for Greek travel agencies, hotels, airlines and ferry companies in efforts to mitigate the effects of mass cancelled trips due to the Covid-19 crisis.

However, it is noted clearly that if the vouchers are not used within 18 months by customers, businesses will be required to refund the initial amount of the bookings in cash.

Airline tickets
The 18-month voucher for airline tickets concerns flights that were booked in advance on Greek airlines and then cancelled between 25 February 2020 and 30 September 2020.

In a time period of 18 months, customers at any time may use their vouchers towards any destination of the network of the airline they had originally booked a trip with.

Ferry tickets
The 18-month voucher concerns domestic and international ferry tickets that were booked on Greek coastal ferries. It concerns cancellations for the period from 25 February 2020 until 31 October 2020.

Vouchers for ferry travel will be issued for customers who cannot travel due to restrictions; do not wish to travel due to uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic; or due to cancellation – under Greek or EU law – of scheduled routes.

In a time period of 18 months, customers may at any time use their vouchers for any destination of the network of the coastal shipping company that had originally made the booking with. All vouchers will be equal to the price of tickets that were originally booked for trips that were canceled.

Hotel, travel agency bookings
The 18-month voucher concerns individual bookings or reservations for package travel. It concerns cancellations that have been made by either the tourism enterprise or the customer of any nationality due to the Covid-19 pandemic, during the period from February 25 2020 until 30 September 2020.

Tourism enterprises are obliged to inform customers of their vouchers within 30 days from the date their booking was cancelled. If enterprises do not inform their customers in 30 days then the vouchers for canceled bookings are considered void and replaced with cash refunds.

The value of each voucher must be equal to the amount paid by the customer in advance when making the booking. The tourism enterprise is obliged to offer the customer the possibility to use the voucher for the provision of the same service or similar to the one that was originally paid for.

If the total value of the service chosen by the customer is less than the value of the voucher, the customer may choose to either receive a new voucher for the amount corresponding to the difference in value, with a duration to be agreed between the parties, or receive the difference in cash when the original voucher expires.

On the other hand, if the total value of the service chosen by the customer exceeds the value of the voucher, the difference is paid by the customer to the tourism enterprise.

About the Author
Nikos is Greek-American born in New York, USA, and has lived in Greece for over 30 years. He is the managing editor of Greece's leading monthly travel and tourism guide, the Greek Travel Pages (GTP) since June 2008 and of news site GTP Headlines since its launch in September 2012. Nikos has also served as international press officer for the City of Athens and for the mayor. He has a degree in Mass Media and Communications, specializing in Journalism. Nikos is a native English speaker and speaks Greek fluently.
  1. Allan Reply

    We are extremely pleased to be able to report that our claim for a credit card refund has been totally successful. The sole purpose of sharing this information with you all is NOT, in any way, to gloat, but, simply, to give some encouragement to many of you who are in a similar situation to us.
    In early January, this year, we booked and fully paid by credit card for a month’s stay at a hotel in Crete. The booking, incidentally, was made at a NON REFUNDABLE rate.
    Towards the end of April, we received an email from the Hotel, offering a rebooking OR an 18 month voucher with no mention of an immediate cash refund as an option.
    We responded that, for various reasons, we were uncomfortable with their offers and requested an immediate cash refund as an option. The Hotel flatly refused this option on the grounds that the Greek state and EU countries had changed the regulation regarding refunds under “force majeure”.
    Before making our final response to the Hotel, I did some research, which indicated that, whilst the Greek state had, in fact, clearly changed the regulation, I could find no evidence that the new regulation had been either EU approved or that there was any guarantees for the voucher value if the Hotel went “bust”.
    Obviously, without these kind of assurances, we were in no way prepared to accept anything other than an immediate cash refund. It was blatantly obvious that we had gone as far as we could with the Hotel and, as a consequence, we notified them of our intention to apply for a credit card refund.
    Whilst, obviously, we appreciate that this course of action is not a possibility in every case, hopefully, some of you will be able to take advantage of this process which, thankfully opens the doors to another option other than being forced into accepting “suspect” vouchers.

  2. Stephanie Reply

    Aloia Villas in Santorini is holding our $1800 hostage for 18 months as well after indicating they would issue a refund previously. It’s absolutely infuriating that greek industry is surviving on the backs of consumers. I have no confidence I will see any money come December of 2021. I’m actually losing money since they are not paying interest. I’ve filed disputes with Chase, but it doesn’t appear they consider it valid. I am now re-disputing. Class Action law suit — sign me up. I have the worst teste in my mouth for Greece. Actually– every single European Airline is refusing refunds even though every single flight was cancelled. Absolutely maddening that a country can get away with this.

    • Gillian Pulling Reply

      We have the same problem with a booking on Andros Greece, we booked 2 rooms, they are saying we are the only ones not happy with a voucher for 18 months.
      They were closed on the date of our projected arrival, which should have been the 13/6/20.
      We have been visiting the Island for many years, now they have tainted it with their actions.

  3. phuong Reply

    Do you know if this also applies to non refundable bookings?

    • Alex V Reply

      I believe that is the whole point. If the booking was refundable you would be able to just refund it.

  4. Mikael Reply

    Residents of Italy, blocked in Athens for 3 months. First, bought airline tickets from the same company for June 4. Athens-Budapest, Budapest-Bologna, the first leg was cancelled, but the second leg remained valid. No other flights to connect with Budapest, respectively all trip burned. 150 EUR spent for nothing. On June 1, bought Ferry from Patras to Ancona in the morning from official website. After buying Train tickets to Patras and coming home, received only 1 sms that tells that everything is cancelled. No emails. Started to call the Call Centers for some euros/minute and listend for MUSIC for hours and without any answer. When I want to listen to music, I turn on the radio. Anyhow, another 150 EUR “borrowed” to Ferry operator for 18 months. June 2, still blocked, paying the rent everyday, my printer does not print money, unfortunately. Available for Class action towards doubtful Government Decision of supporting the “economy” by such extraordinary means.

  5. brandon Reply

    Not sure why my last comment was removed

    Does a hotel have to advise they will give you a voucher or actually send you a voucher within the 30 days of cancelling to void the voucher?

  6. Brandon Davis Reply

    Hi there,

    I have been offered a 18 month voucher from the hotel I am meant to be staying in. This is instead of a refund on my deposit

    Does anyone know if they have to just advise of the voucher or actually send you the voucher in order to void the voucher after the 30 days?

    Thanks in advance

  7. Angela Reply

    I received notification today from the cruise I’m supposed to take that we won’t get a refund till Dec 2021! This is outrageous and unacceptable to the consumer! Class action lawsuit …how can we do that? Keeping our money interest free and if they go belly up we only get 80% back!? I am not sure I will ever refer the cruise company or Greece in my travel destination again

    • Tracey Kornemann Reply

      Is anyone responding to these questions??

  8. B Paul Reply

    We were to visit Mainland Greece and few of the islands end April and May beginning. My international flight carrier sent me a notification 3rd week of March that my flight for 4/29 has been cancelled. That’s when I started contacting Aegean airlines for my internal flights within Greece island. I was shocked when their response was that their flights are still flying so they cannot do anything at this point. Looks like they refused to understand the situation that USA has closed its boarder so there was no way for me to fly out. Then on 4/7 I got an email from them that they are giving me an option to change my tickets with no extra cost if I do the changes by 4/10. When I called them they said since my flight is not cancelled I either have the option to change my ticket now or cancel my ticket and get back 17 euros only. Then again they emailed that I can change by tickets by 4/16. So when I called again on 4/16 my biggest concern was what if I cannot visit even after changing my ticket to a later date for this year. What shocks me is neither this concern was addressed nor was it mentioned to me that I can get a voucher which I can use in next 18 months or get my money back if I don’t use it. So the only option I had was to change the tickets. Now when I am calling them to change my ticket to a voucher they are saying if your flight is not cancelled you don’t get anything. On 4/16 Greece govt had updated their term but not even once Aegean mentioned it to me. The feeling I get is from the very beginning they knew countries are closing boarders and tourists won’t be able to visit and take domestic flights so they will get all those money. Not even once did they try to help me. I have never interacted with such a bogus company whose intentions are to give customers a hard time and not work with them.

    • Jackie Reply

      Hello B Paul
      I’m in the same situation and can’t get a hold of anyone to talk to. Can you please tell me the phone number you called and the email address you used to contact Aegean? I appreciate your help.
      Thank you

  9. Ann Talo Reply

    This is a horrible situation I will never book with a Greek travel agency again. Fantasy Travel in Greece is trying to give me a voucher not only did they charge me cancellation fees; but they wont give me the money I am owed based on their cancellation policy when I originally booked. Not to mention, they haven’t changed the original policy on their website. They just decided to give out Vouchers. Never book with Fantasy Travel in Greece they are unlawful and take advantage of travelers.

  10. Allan Reply

    It’s all Greek to me too!!
    However, I am absolutely certain that the Regulation excludes, amongst other things,immediate cash refunds as an option and also fails to give guaranteed protection against insolvencies.
    As a consequence, my patience and sympathies have now expired and a credit card Section 75 claim is now in progress.

    • Tracey Kornemann Reply

      What are you telling your credit card company? Mine is saying I can’t do a charge back since they are offering vouchers

      • Allan Reply

        It sounds like a complete and utter “cop out” to me. Your credit card company are not giving a valid reason, but simply an excuse. The last time I looked, Greece was a member of the EU and therefor subject to EU laws. One of these laws states that if a trip is cancelled due to “unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances”, travelers have the right to get a full refund of any payments without undue delay and in any event within 14 days after termination of the contract. The organisation may offer the travelers reimbursement in the form of a voucher, however this does not deprive the traveler of their right to reimbursement in money.
        As far as I am aware, that law still stands. However, it would appear that the Greek Government decided to make up their own rules, without any kind of approval from the EU.
        Tracey, if I were to get a similar response from my credit card company to the one you received, I would want to know why, before reaching their decision, they considered it right and proper to condone a ruling, which was in contravention of European Union Law!!
        I ask myself, where does this farcical process end? Possibly, in 18 months time,when events have not quite worked out as intended and the Greek Government decide to “move the goal posts” yet again and declare the vouchers worthless!!!

  11. Marc Sewell Reply

    The yacht charter companies are also issuing vouchers. 4600 euro they are keeping/stealing. We paid with VISA so I will try a chargeback. Been going to Greece 25 years. This is bad faith. We need a class action suit. We don’t know if we can even go next year. With this unethical attitude, i don’t want to. If they had been professional, i would have eagerly booked for next year. This is government-backed fraud.

  12. Laura M Sewell Reply

    The yacht charter companies are also issuing vouchers. 4600 euro they are keeping/stealing. We paid with VISA so I will try a chargeback. Been going to Greece 25 years. This is bad faith. We need a class action suit. We don’t know if we can even go next year. With this unethical attitude, i don’t want to. If they had been professional, i would have eagerly booked for next year. This is government-backed fraud.

  13. Lyn Reply

    can anyone tell me when the 18 month term for the vouchers starts? is it from the date of booking cancellation or the date of issuance? should the expiry date be stated on the voucher? I have located the legislation but I cannot read Greek – is there an English version of the legislation

  14. Gill Pulling Reply

    We booked to go to Andros Greece on 12/6/20 we booked 1 night in a hotel in Rafina as a transit hotel, as our ferry did not leave until the morning after our evening flight, they have offered us a credit for 18 months, if we do go again we may not need this overnight stay, we had paid in full.
    Also the accommodation owner on the island of Andros wanted a deposit which we paid in Sept 2019, they have offered us a credit not for our deposit, they say they are opening on 10/6/20 but all the advice says it will be 15/6/20 so they would not be open, we paid €230 for 2 rooms, we also have not been able to work, this is our money, do we have to accept the offer or can we demand our money back.
    No flights from U.K. yet anyway.
    If they did the decent thing we would go back, but behaving this way is appalling, we have been going to Greece for 24 years but probably never again.

  15. Soula Reply

    We have booked ferries and hotels for Santorini, Paros and Milos. fortunately they have all provided us with either a refund or voucher, valid for 2 years. We are flying to Croatia first on 11/7 and our flight has not yet been cancelled. Refund and voucher option exists though. My problem is that we are flying from Dudrovnik to Athens with Aegean and today I was told that as my flight has not been cancelled at this stage (note: borders between Croatia and Greece due to be opened July) I am not entitled to a refund or voucher…Australian borders are closed so how am I even supposed to get to either Croatia or Greece. Not at all happy with Aegean and wondering what my options are.

  16. Steve Reply

    Hello and thank you for the information.
    I completely understand that Hotels etc are going through a very tough time during the covid 19 pandemic. But as within Greece, the UK & others countries have the same ongoing issues.
    There are 10’s of thousands of people are losing their jobs at the moment and many could really do with the refund of the money paid for a hotel. Especially where a “refundable” flexible booking had been made.

    • Lorraine Meese-Kennedy Reply

      I booked a charter boat and tried to claim a refund as the boat cannot be provided on 30th May as agreed. I have now been told that I cannot have a refund because the Greek government says so! I have been offered a credit note to pay for the same boat for the same week next year but have also been told that I have to pay an additional 114.63 euros as the price of the boat will be more next year! Not only are the Greek government shoring up their tourist industry at the cost of overseas tourists, charging this additional price is sheer profiteering.

      • Tracey Kornemann Reply

        Exactly what my hotel has said. “No refund because the Greek government says we don’t have to. So I’m out $3,000???

    • Sherpa P Reply

      Hi, I’m in exactly the same position, but when reluctantly attempting to use the credit voucher to rebook at the same time in 2021, surprise surprise the villa company have inflated all pricing by at least 10%. Absolutely perfect example of price gouging – profiteering at the consumer expense when events are completely out of their control. This is not fair to the consumer by a long mark. Basically, steal our money, and then lock you into a service you have to use even it is completely impossible to predict your future situation to take or finance a holiday, then inflate prices. Absolutely 100% on the side of businesses, 0% to the consumer. We’ve gone back to our villa company to negotiate, they’ve also conveniently not mentioned the cash refund after 18 months, we will see what happens next but will definitely be considering legal action as next step.

  17. Sally Dolton Reply

    I only booked Spetses Hotel and paid refundable deposit on 17th Feb 2020. I informed them on 23 March that we would be unable to come. Was told they would refund deposit soonest! Then by return would I like a voucher, replied immediately no, they said OK. Eventually on 15 April was told their accounts department said I should have a voucher. I replied no. Then on 17th April was told Greek Government has passed a law on 14th April. I replied immediately no I wanted money back because would not be able to come in future, in mid 70s so not sure how mobile I will be next year. I have had no reply despite a reminder. They still say on website deposits are refundable, also on Booking.com no talk of vouchers, surely this is unlawful. Will I get me deposit back after my voucher runs out? Feel hotel have been dishonest saying they will send a refund and then holding out as they obviously knew this law was in the pipeline. I assume they are actually allowed to refund my deposit? Thank you

  18. Ren Reply

    Does anyone have a reference to the formal announcement of this legislation? Some yacht charter companies mention the voucher as alternative, but not that you can still claim a refund after 18 months (if they still exist). So are they only telling part of the agreement to try and hide the refund option, or are there different regulations going around?

  19. Leo Reply

    Does the voucher policy apply to non-refundable hotel reservations as well?

  20. Daniel Reply

    I would accept to pay a cancellation fee (10~15%) rather than lending money for free for 18 months to a Hotel. Extremely disappointed, they are stealing our money.

  21. Allan Reply

    Having been offered these 18 month credit vouchers in respect of our booking at a Crete hotel, I raised my concerns with the Manager as to what happens if, in the meantime,they “go bust”. His response was that the Greek Government “guarantees 80% of the credits”.
    What happens to the remaining 20% I ask???

  22. Maxim Reply

    Amazing loop hole for the Greek hotels wanting to keep clients’ cash. What if these money are vital to survive for the customer right now. What to do with the vouchers from the hotels if you want to eat and need to pay for your accommodation in your own country?
    And what is going to happen with those vouchers if hotel which issued it is going to close down by next year?

  23. Maria Reply

    Tourism operators….quote….must be able to provide refunds if customers wanted them, while Valean said airlines should be able to offer vouchers only if passengers explicitly agreed not to be refunded in cash.

    If customers are not offered such a choice, the European Commission could later launch infringement procedures against offending member states that could result in fines.

  24. Darci Reply

    How do I get vouchers from hotels who will not reply to my emails?
    I had booked 3 hotels in Greece for early May. One responded quickly and cancelled my booking with a full refund. The other 2 have not responded!

  25. Jairoamokee Reply

    I cancelled my booking at Elounda on March 16. The booking was able to be cancelled in accordance with its terms and conditions but the hotel stalled and stalled, saying first that they were processing the refund, then that their accounts department was closed so they claimed they could not process and finally hiding behind this new COVID law on credit vouchers. But they did not e mail me regarding the replacement by credit voucher until 36 days after I cancelled… Does anyone know if the new Greek law says they must refund if they do not offer a credit voucher after 30 days or does it stipulate 30 business days… if it’s just days, then it’s clear they must refund I think?.

    • Jairoamokee Reply

      The new law applies unless a cancellation was made before 25 Feb….the Greek government is using foreign tourists to lend money to its tourism industry on an interest free basis for 18 months….

      • Maria Theofanopoulou Reply

        The 18-month voucher concerns cancellations that have been made by either the tourism enterprise or the customer of any nationality due to the Covid-19 pandemic, during the period from February 25 2020 until 30 September 2020.

    • Maria Theofanopoulou Reply

      The legislation mentions that tourism enterprises are obliged to inform customers of their vouchers within 30 days from the date their booking was cancelled.

      • adam james Reply

        We have a yacht charter booked for 13th June. We are based in UK and cannot get to Greece. We have been advised that as yacht is still available for use then no refund due. IE all yacht charters round Greek islands can go ahead on 13th June. Also because charter company has not cancelled the yacht the voucher scheme/cash back after 18 months is not available- ie it is up to the greek yacht company to cancel so we can reclaim and they won’t. We had to ask about the Goverment scheme, they didn’t tell us about it. Is there an english translation of the scheme rules anywhere ? Thanks

        • Maria Theofanopoulou Reply

          Hi Adam,
          Unfortunately, you can find the law only in the Greek language. Here is the link to the official document in case you want to translate it. (article 70-71 ΦΕΚ Α’ 84/13-04-2020) https://news.gtp.gr/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/%CE%A6%CE%95%CE%9A-%CE%9184-13-04-20-.pdf

          • Eric

            Hi Maria,

            Any chance you can copy/paste (or point out which page/paragraph) in the PDF that pertains to the 18 month voucher then refund? I’m having issues with my Mykonos hotel. I’m using Google Translate and looking for paragraphs that have the phrase “18”, lol. My e-mail is eric at ericlam dot us.

            Thanks!

            Eric

        • Barbara arbes Reply

          Figured it out.. go to translate.googke.com and it will translate the document.. it is unclear to me even in english! Page 21/22/23. That’s where the cancellation and refund info is for the tourists who have paid for services..

      • Tracey Kornemann Reply

        Can you elaborate on this? My hotel won’t allow me to cancel. Just stalls & says the Greek government says they don’t have to refund the money so I’m out $3,000 if I do.

      • Tracey Kornemann Reply

        Maria – I have prepaid for my stay on Amorgos in July. They refuse to give me a refund only just told me the Greek government says they don’t have to refund me, only to offer me 18 months to use the money I’ve paid. I’ve cut the number of people coming and the new price is……more than what it was. So I cut the number of people AND nights, and the new price is ….exactly what it was before. They have no intention of refunding me any money, even for fewer services offered!
        Is there not anyone we can contact? The department of tourism? A lawyer? State department? Thank you

  26. Robert WIlson Reply

    If the Greek government wants to support it’s travel industry it should float the industry itself, not do it on the back of consumers. Not refunding refundable hotel reservations is a clear breach of contract and trust with travelers. It only reinforces broader negative views of Greek businesses.

    • Darci Reply

      How do I get vouchers from hotels who will not reply to my emails?
      I had booked 3 hotels in Greece for early May. One responded quickly and cancelled my booking with a full refund. The other 2 have not responded!

      • Maria Theofanopoulou Reply

        The voucher legislation mentions that tourism enterprises are obliged to inform customers of their vouchers within 30 days from the date their booking was cancelled. If enterprises do not inform their customers in 30 days then the vouchers for canceled bookings are considered void and replaced with cash refunds.

        • Alex Reply

          Does that mean if I canceled my booking 14th March and got info about voucher 17th of April am eligible for cash refunds?

    • Barbara arbes Reply

      Can you please post the legislature in english? Having a difficult time trying to get it done.
      My issue is with SkyExpress – I have a domestic flight on June 24- they tell me if I cancel, I only get the tax back. The flight has not been cancelled and therefore I am not entitled to a voucher. Want to submit the law to them after reading and if that is not satisfactory – will go to my cc to dispute with the evidence that I am in the right and to get the money back

  27. Udo Reply

    Hello and thank you. This information is very helpful. The only detail that doesn’t clearly result for me from the article: what if an airline or travel agency will file bancrupcy within the 18 months time frame, before the client used the voucher for new travel? Will the Greek State then guarantee the value of the issued vouchers and pay the money back to the clients?

    • Allan Reply

      We have been offered these 18 month vouchers by our Crete hotel. I emailed the manager and asked this very question. His response was that “in the worst case scenario, the Greek state guarantees 80% of the total credits.” It goes without saying that I was far from impressed!!

  28. Victor Reply

    My wife and I have a trip booked for 13-22 June and so far we haven’t canceled it. Are we eligible for a voucher even if WE decide to postpone our travel for a later date or does it have to be the airline/hotel/ferry company that needs to cancel?

  29. elyse weigel Reply

    Can the travel agency charge a 25% fee if the tourist chooses a refund? I am in the US and can’t find the link to the original legislation.

  30. Stuart R.Evans Reply

    Re GTP pages
    Covid-19: Greece Covers Canceled Bookings with Vouchers Instead of Refunds
    Posted On 14 Apr 2020By : Nikos KrinisComment: 0

    Fair and unambiguous arrangement, overall demonstrating how serious and professional the Greek Travel Industry is, as well as how much the Greek Government cares for the industry’s reputation.
    Stuart
    Former Airline Operations Manager

    • Jairoamokee Reply

      The arrangement is clear I will give you that. But it is hardly fair… consumers are being forced to lend money to Greek hotels on an interest free basis for 18 months. The hotel or tourist company may well be insolvent during this period or alternatively the hotel may dramatically increase their prices so that the voucher issued becomes something that will give nothing similar to that paid for. The law doesn’t show the Greek governments support for the Greek tourism industry.. if it wanted to do that efficiently it would bail them out. It in fact shows a lack of care and derision and respect for the customers of its tourism industry… but it doesn’t care about them because they are largely foreign. People should think carefully before risking booking a holiday in Greece ever again!

    • Nader Georgios Reply

      It is neither fair nor unambiguous. These new regulation should only apply towards reservations that were made under non-refundable rates/policies. However, those who made their reservations under a refundable and paid the extra money to make sure they have the flexibility of cancellation should be fully refunded if they choose to, as refundable reservation fees are not supposed to be counted towards investment budget by hotels, airlines, .. etc

      • Dah Hub Reply

        I booked a refundable hotel stay in Santorini. I notified the hotel well in advance of the cancel by date. Now they are telling that the Greek government told them they are not allowed to refund me my deposits. I also booked 2 reservations at the same hotel thru American Express Travel and they have already canceled and refunded me my deposits. I want my deposits back as I don’t know if I will ever return to Santorini.

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