The benefits of establishing a Travel Compensation Fund in Greece were discussed between Greek and foreign tour operators and travel agents during a conference held in Athens recently by the Hellenic Association of Travel & Tourist Agencies (HATTA).
Titled “Re-ally tourism – The Hellenic and European travel agents initiative”, the conference hosted executives of the European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Association (ECTAA) and the World Travel Agents Associations Alliance (WTAAA).
During the conference, the professionals touched on the subject of travel refund guarantee funds that operate in other countries and aim to assist consumers in case a travel provider declares bankruptcy.
Following the emerge of the Covid-19 crisis, European countries such as Denmark and Poland established additional guarantee funds for extraordinary circumstances.
HATTA: We’re ready to establish a Greek Travel Compensation Fund
In Greece, the establishment of a similar fund has been a long-standing demand of Greek tour operators and travel agents who estimate that it would benefit both local professionals and consumers.
“A fund specializing in the Greek market, operating with the knowhow of other European funds, in line with European regulations and managed by the association, could offer viable solutions for the future of Greek tourism,” according to HATTA.
Speaking during the conference, Marios Kammenos, vice president of HATTA and treasurer of ECTAA, said that the latest revision of the EU travel package directive has put additional pressure on tour operators.
“Over the next 10 years insurance companies might not be able to insure travel products because after the latest revision of the travel package directive, it will become a very costly procedure,” he said.
HATTA believes that establishing a Greek Travel Compensation Fund is now more important than ever and says it is ready to follow the example of other countries.
“Such a fund would support our industry and increase credibility. The idea has been in our minds for more than 10 years, and during this very long time we’ve had the opportunity to see what is happening in other European countries. We are ready to take this next step,” Kammenos said.
The example of Denmark and Poland
During the event, Lars Thykier, president of the World Travel Agents Associations Alliance (WTAAA) and managing director of DRF – the Association of Danish Travel Agents and Tour Operators presented the case of Denmark.
As he said, the country has three travel guarantee funds:
– the Package Travel Guarantee Fund established in 1979 to cover travel agents bankruptcies
– the “Flight Only” Fund established in 2015 to cover airline bankruptcies
– the Extraordinary Circumstances Fund established in 2020 to cover travel agent/tour operator loans taken to reimburse customers whose travel was either canceled or shortened due to Covid-19.
Poland also has three travel guarantee funds covering travel packages, Covid-19 cases and extraordinary circumstances such as the Russia-Ukraine war.