Travel voucher expiry dates loom, not all holiday firms are happy

Photo: Odi Busman
Photo: Odi Busman

It is now a year since the start of the Dutch ‘intelligent lockdown’, when holidays abroad were cancelled and thousands of people accepted vouchers rather that refunds.

Now the expiry date for the first vouchers is approaching, and some holiday firms are warning that they cannot afford to stump up the cash if the holders decide they want their money back.

Last week package holiday firm Corendon, number 3 in the Dutch market, warned that it could not afford the refunds, pointing out that a government-backed fund to help travel firms meet their legal requirements has not yet been finalised.

‘It is very irritating that the fund has been delayed,’ Corendon director Steven van der Heijden said at the weekend. ‘We’ve had a very dramatic year and have already paid back €15m… but we can only continue to do this if the fund has been set up.’

The government said in November it would put €400m in a special fund managed by holiday guarantee foundation SGR. Travel firms would then be able to borrow up to 80% of the cost of refunds from the fund, but have to repay the amount within six years, plus interest.

However, government officials only applied for Brussels’ permission to set up the fund at the end of February. The EU has to give clearance because the fund counts as state support for industry, and that will take some six weeks, the AD said.

TUI and Sunweb both say they do not expect to have any problems because the peak period for foreign holidays is May, and the fund will be operating by then.


Consumers association Consumentenbond says it has little sympathy with Corendon, which, it says, knew the deadline for repayments was approaching.

‘Normally, consumers should be given a refund within 14 days but everyone has been flexible about this,’ a spokesman said. ‘Agreements were made with the regulator and that includes hard deadlines.’

Regulator ACM said it expected travel organisations to meet their obligations. ‘We are going to actively monitor this,’ a spokesman said.

People who have a voucher have two months from the end date to book a new trip for this year or ask for their money back, in line with the payment terms on the voucher itself.

Airlines and holiday firms are no longer issuing vouchers to travellers whose trips are cancelled. Who ever books a trip now, does it at their own risk, in line with the coronavirus regulations. The government has recommended against all foreign travel until April 15.

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