Gloria Guevara, President and Chief Executive, World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), has urged EU authorities and the UK Government to implement flexibility around consumer refunds to alleviate the unbearable pressure on the travel and tourism sector.
Research conducted by WTTC shows that 75 million travel and tourism jobs are at risk globally due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with at least 6.4 million losses across the EU, and one million in the UK.
WTTC says that this important measure will have a profound effect to reduce the damaging situation that the majority of tour operators and travel agents, online and offline, are facing due to the previously unimaginable impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
WTTC is calling for exceptional flexibility around the existing Package Travel Directive requirements, which are not appropriate or fit for purpose in the present crisis circumstances, and should be suspended at least until August. Consumer protection will be unaffected, but travel agents and tour operators will have more time to refund those customers choosing to cancel their existing bookings. The current 14-day timeline for refunds is putting enormous burdens on businesses in the travel and tourism sector and will lead to major bankruptcies. These, in turn, will lead to more claims by consumers on credit card firms and, ultimately, government-bonded schemes.
Gloria Guevara added: “This measure should be implemented immediately and help lift the already crushing financial pressure on travel and tourism organisations and save the millions of livelihoods that depend on them.”