The Government has agreement to provide a State guarantee for a special form of refund credit note for package holidays booked through Irish registered travel agents and tour operators.
Minister for Transport Shane Ross said: “The travel restrictions imposed across the world in response to the Covid-19 pandemic have led to the widespread cancellation of holidays during March, April and May, with many people having to postpone holiday, wedding and honeymoon plans. Under the EU Travel Package Directive, people who have had to cancel such bookings because of the Covid-19 travel are entitled to a cash refund, and that entitlement will continue to apply. However, it is also the case that many travel agents and tour operators are having severe cash flow problems, and it is not clear that all of them will be able to meet all of their current cash refund obligations and at the same time be able to stay in business.
“The Government has therefore agreed to back a new refund credit note that travel agents and tour operators can offer their customers.”
The refund credit note will work as follows:
1. It can be to the value of all of the refund due or part of the refund alongside part cash.
2. It will be issued with a future redeemable date, and on that date it can be exchanged for its cash value, or can be used to book a replacement holiday.
3. It will be State-guaranteed in the event that the travel agent or tour operator becomes insolvent.
Minister Ross added: “These are very difficult days for our tourism industry and for the many travel agencies and tour operators who have seen their businesses face near collapse in recent months. However, it is also financially challenging for people who booked holidays and are entitled to a refund of their investment. The Refund Credit Note aims to strike a balance between preventing sector-wide bankruptcy (with associated immediate job losses) and consumer rights.”