COVID-19: Commissioner Reynders repeats his call for respect of consumer protection and support to travel and tourism businesses for package travel holidays

Commissioner Didier Reynders repeats today his call on Member States, travel organisers and all involved actors to find pragmatic and flexible solutions that respect travellers’ rights for cancelled package travel holidays in the current situation of COVID-19 outbreak. As regards cancelled holidays, the traveller’s right to be reimbursed in accordance with the EU Package Travel Directive also applies in case of “unavoidable and extraordinary” circumstances such as those caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. Nevertheless, in light of the unprecedented situation, Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice and Consumers, calls for pragmatic solutions:  

Travellers have the right to get a full refund if their trip is cancelled. However, when possible, consumers should consider accepting a voucher that allows them to postpone their holidays to a later point in time, under certain conditions. Such voucher should be reimbursable if not used and secured against possible insolvency of the operator. At the same time, Member States should also consider providing liquidity support to the travel business that allows them to settle travelers’ refund claims, in accordance with State aid rules.

Commissioner Reynders, on behalf of the European Commission, wrote a letter to all Member States and is liaising with business and consumer associations to ensure that appropriate actions are taken at national level that strike the right balance between consumer protection and support to travel and tourism businesses. In this context, the Danish State loan facility in support of the Travel Guarantee Fund that the European Commission approved on 3 April 2020 under State aid rules ensures that liquidity remains available to travel organizers, while allowing them to settle quickly and efficiently travelers’ refund claims. Last month, the European Commission published an advisory guidance on EU package travel rules in the context of COVID-19.