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Greece Revises Law on Vouchers for Canceled Travel Due to Covid-19

Photo source: WTTC

The Greek government has revised regulations to the law on refund claims regarding bookings of airlines, ferries, yachts, hotels and travel packages that were canceled due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

More specifically, amendments were made to Greek law ΠΝΠ13.04.2020/2020 which contains measures to address the continuing consequences caused by Covid-19. These amendments have been included in the new law v.4722/15.09.2020 (Article 81 replaces Article 61 of the previous law regarding cancelled airline tickets, Article 82 replaces Article 65 of the previous law regarding cancellations to sea travel and Article 83 replaces Article 70 of the previous law regarding cancelled bookings of hotels and other travel services), which was published in the Government Gazette on September 15.

Among other things, the law includes all businesses and travelers need to know about refund claims and vouchers issued for canceled bookings over the February 25 – August 31 period. It is noted that claims for airline ticket refunds after September 1, 2020, will be covered in accordance to EU regulation 261/2004 as was the case prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Moreover, according to the revised regulations, vouchers can be transferred to a third person at no additional cost.

Following are the main amendments in the new law (v.4722/15.09.2020):

Airline tickets – Article 81

  • Claims of passengers for airline ticket refunds due to flight cancellations between the 25 February 2020 – 31 August 2020 period, in accordance to EU or national law, will be covered with a voucher equal to the price of the canceled flight ticket.

 

– The voucher is issued by the air carrier and expires after 18 months from its issuance.
– During the 18 months, the holder of the voucher may at any time use it for any destination within the air carrier’s network.
– Within the same 18-month time period, the voucher may also be transferred to a third party free of charge, as long as the issuer of the voucher has been notified at least 10 days prior to the trip, so that a new one can be issued to the third party who will make use of it.
– Until the expiration of the voucher, the owed ticket cost is not considered overdue and receivable. The debt becomes overdue and receivable, if 18 months have passed since the issuance of the voucher and it has not been used.

  • The revisions in the law are also applied to bookings made between the parties, as applicable in both Greek and foreign law, provided that the relevant rights are covered by EU legislation.
  • The revisions of the law do not include claims of passengers for airline ticket refunds resulting from flight cancellations from 1 September 2020 onwards, as well as claims for refunds of airline tickets to passengers who did not issue a voucher.
    Claims for airline ticket refunds due to flight cancellations from 1 September 2020 onwards will be catered to in accordance to Articles 5, 7 and 8 of Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004.

 

Sea travel (ferries, yachts, boats) – Article 82

  • Reimbursement claims for passengers holding international/domestic ferry tickets, who from 25 February 2020 to 31 August 2020 were unable to travel due to travel restrictions or were unwilling to travel due to uncertainty caused by the pandemic or due to cancellation of scheduled ferry itineraries, in accordance to EU or national law, will be catered to with a voucher equal to the price of the canceled ticket.

 

– The voucher is issued by the shipowner, shipping company or ticket agency and expires 18 months from the date of voyage.
– During the 18-month period, the holder of the voucher may at any time make use of it for any destination in the carrier’s network.
– Within the same 18-month time period, the voucher may be transferred to a third party at no additional charge, as long as the issuer of the voucher has been notified at least 10 days prior to the trip, so that a new one can be issued to the third party who will make use of it.
– Until the expiration of the voucher, the owed ticket cost is not considered overdue and receivable. The debt becomes overdue and receivable, if 18 months have passed since the issuance of the voucher and it has not been used.

  • The aforementioned rules for refund claims for private yacht (commercial pleasure boats) charter bookings remain until 31 October 2020.
  • The provisions in the law are applied to the contracts which have been agreed between the parties, as applicable in both Greek and foreign law, provided that the relevant rights are covered by EU legislation.
  • The provisions of the law do not include claims of passengers for cancellations of scheduled ferry routes or boat tours and / or a ban on the movement of passengers on domestic/international ferry routes from 1 September 2020 onwards.

 

Bookings of hotels and other travel services – Article 83

Amendments were also made to the Greek law regarding claims against contracts (bookings) agreed between tourism enterprises and customers, covering the 25 February 2020 to 31 August 2020 period and that concern the provision of tourist services as individual bookings or bookings in the form of organized travel packages, which have been agreed between tourism companies and customers. The claims against the contracts can be made from either side.

It is noted that “customers”, who reside either in or outside Greece, are considered (a) consumers; (b) natural persons, including representatives of small business, self-employed or self-employed persons, who make reservations for business-related travel; (c) natural or legal persons who, acting for purposes relating to their commercial, business, craft or professional activity, enter into contracts with tourism businesses for the arrangement of business trips, including conferences or seminars; and (d) natural or legal persons, including schools, educational institutions and non-profit associations, which form contracts with tourism businesses to arrange occasional and non-profit travel to a limited group of travelers and are not aimed at serving the general public.

  • If a tourism enterprise is obliged to return an advance or full payment or a payment that has been made in any other form for the execution of the booking, it has the right to issue a voucher, instead of a refund, equal to the price of the amount paid and valid for 18 months from the date of issue.
  • The tourism enterprise is obliged to notify the customer in writing about the voucher within 30 days from the date the booking was cancelled. If the tourism enterprise does not inform the customer in writing about the offer of the voucher within the 30-day deadline, it is obliged to return the full amount owed to the customer.
  • The voucher must correspond to, at least, the total amount to be repaid. The tourism enterprise is obliged to offer the customer the opportunity to use the voucher for a tourism service similar to or equivalent to the one concerned in the cancelled booking.
  • Vouchers issued in accordance with the amendments of the law may be transferred to a third party at no additional cost. If the vouchers are issued by travel package organizers, the possibility of transferring the voucher to a third party without cost is possible under the condition that the providers (suppliers) of the individual services included in the organized trip agree with the transfer without additional charge.
  • If the total value of the tourism service chosen by the customer is less than the value of the voucher, the customer may choose either to receive a new voucher for the amount corresponding to the difference in value, with a duration to be agreed between the two parties, or to be reimbursed for the amount corresponding to the difference in value, no later than the expiry date of the original voucher. If the total value of the tourism service that the customer will choose exceeds the value of the voucher, the difference is paid by the customer to the tourism enterprise.
  • If for any reason, when the voucher expires, no new booking has been made for the provision of any tourism service between the tourism enterprise and the customer, the tourism enterprise is obliged to immediately pay the refundable amount of money to the customer.
  • The provisions in the law are applied to the bookings that have been agreed between the parties, as applicable in both Greek and foreign law, provided that the relevant rights are covered by EU legislation.

 

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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. Laura Reply

    Has anyone had any luck reporting this officially? We had our wedding cancelled due to force majeure. The hotel was acquired by Hines (USA) and we are not receiving any communication back from them.

    Has anyone successfully gone through legal channels?

    Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

    Laura and Amit

  2. Karis Reply

    I had a booking with ON THE CLIFF Santorini who said they would give us a credit to use until end of 2022 season for our honeymoon in March 2020 which was cancelled due to Covid. They are not replying to my emails and hang up on me when I call to try and book to use my credit. What can I do to actually book a holiday and use my credit?

  3. Tom Hammond Reply

    I had one of these vouchers, which I couldn’t use.

    I requested the refund after the 18 months, and guess what. The hotel is refusing.

    F*****g Greece is a criminal’s delight.

  4. Michelle Hutton Reply

    Summer White Villa Collection Santorini. Had accommodation booked for Aug 2020 to stay at Cosmoia Cave House – Santorini, Greece. The accommodation people made me cancel and with written evidence from them stating I had to take a 18 month voucher and if voucher not used in that time would reimburse the money. 18 months have past and Summer White Villa Collection Santorini will not refund my money after I have written evidence from them and countless emails asking for my refund. What can I do as I keep emailing them but will not refund my money ???

  5. Tanita Spencer Reply

    Having a issue with Phōs Santorini. It’s past the 18months, the 6th of January was 18 months expiration.

    It’s been 3 weeks and apparently they sent the money already. But my bank says it has not.

    • Tom Hammond Reply

      I had my hotel just come out and say they don’t have to.

      In typical Greek fashion, I don’t think anyone will receive a refund.

  6. N Redmond Reply

    I have the same issue as others. My voucher has expired after 18 months and the hotel Karras in Zante do not respond to emails and don’t answer the phone. The voucher states the money paid should be refunded , covered by Greek article 70. What should we do if hotels do not honour this?

  7. Diane Balmer-Martin Reply

    Dear Nikos, hope you are well. We have the same issue with our Hydra hotel of requesting our refund as promised after the 18-month period. They are not responding to any emails. Is my next step to contact the authorities, and who would that be? Many thanks in advance for your suggestions.

  8. Jovana Reply

    Our voucher has expired today, 18 months after cancellation, so we were supposed to get a fefund from Cronwell resort, but no one has replied my emails and mesaages. How can we reach the hotel, or where do we complain and claim our vouchers?

  9. Jasvin Kaur Reply

    was supposed to go on honeymoon last year but got cancelled. I booked 4 hotels in Greece of which 3 has refunded. Airline and ferry has refunded. Yet La Perla Villa is refusing to refund but they’re willing to give an extended voucher. What is the point when we are unlikely to travel to Greece anytime soon – especially when all other establishments have offered refunds ??
    Where can I file a complaint?

  10. Ivan Aleksiev Reply

    I have a problem with a hotel voucher which I am not able to use and refund is rejected. Where I can send my complaint? Voucher expires in 2 months

  11. UB Reply

    We have vouchers, but now the hotel’s phone lines are disconnected and the hotel doesn’t reply to email / social media. What to do?

  12. Tony Reply

    Who do we contact if no voucher has been provided after 30 days of cancellation?

  13. Br Reply

    In February Aegean air Informed us we were not getting a refund or voucher because apparently our flight was one of the few that wasn’t canceled even thought we got a email last May we had vouchers for the cancelled flights. I suggest to everyone who was told no refund or voucher apply to their credit card for reimbursement. That’s how we got our money back. Aegean air is ensuring I don’t holiday in Greece ever or fly into it as part of our European trips

  14. Yvonne Roberto Reply

    I don’t understand why it is the consumer’s responsability to keep hotels etc. afloat and not the government’s. All the money paid to these establishments for services never received could also help the person who has earned and paid that money. We are all in the same situation. Clearly free travel will not happen in a while. Don’t get why Greek businesses feel so entitled.

  15. Paola Frau Reply

    How can a national Greek law have more value than a European law? If the European Union says that vouchers are not a legal “refund method” and customers have the right to ask for a monetary refund how can Greece do laws as it pleases? If every country does what it wants, the European Union has no sense to exist.

  16. Shilpa Syal Dhawan Reply

    we were suppose to travel to Greece in march 2020.
    The agents issued new vouchers till march 2021. Unfortunately in the current situation, we could not travel and don’t see travelling till next year,

    Can we ask for a refund . He refused earlier.

    Thanks & Regards
    Shilpa

    • George TK Reply

      Good day,

      The vouchers issued in March 2020 should be valid for 18 months from the date of issue, so until September 2021

  17. Adam Reply

    Greek yacht charter company refusing a refund and advised that voucher system does not apply to them, ie they can pick and chose whether or not to provice a voucher and/or cash refund at the end of 18 months. Is this right ? At the time of the charter, Greece had closed it borders so it was impossible for us to take up the charter.

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