€400m ‘voucher bank’ to guarantee refunds for cancelled holidays

Photo: Benjamin van Waart/Flickr
Many flights have been grounded by travel restrictions. Photo: Benjamin van Waart/Flickr

The cabinet is planning to invest €400 million in a bailout fund for travel operators who are unable to cover the cost of refunding tourists for holidays cancelled during the coronavirus crisis.

Around a million Dutch residents have received vouchers as compensation for cancelled holidays since the outbreak began, worth a total of €1 billion. According to the Telegraaf, The ‘voucher bank’ scheme is designed to guarantee that anyone opting for a refund will be paid back even if the tour operator is unable to foot the bill.

Erik Jan Reuver, director of the travel trade’s compensation scheme SGR, said the extra €400 million in government loans meant companies would be able to honour all requests for refunds up to the end of March next year.

The fact that the scheme covers less than half the total value of vouchers is not a problem because many travellers have already opted to rebook their holidays for next year or are planning to do so.

‘This will prevent a large number of businesses going bust because they are unable to pay out their vouchers,’ Frank Oostdam, chair of the Dutch travel trade association ANVR, told the NOS Radio 1 Journaal.

The Dutch government initially said travellers who booked their spring and summer holidays for 2020 before the coronavirus outbreak began would only be entitled to vouchers, not a refund, to stop companies going out of business.

But the cabinet changed its position after European Commission vice-president Margrethe Vestager sent letters to member states pressing them to honour the right of European consumers to receive a cash refund ‘if that is what they want’.

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