Ectaa urges EU-wide action on travel refunds

European travel associations representing tour operators, agents, OTAs and travel technology companies have called for an EU-wide legal framework for voucher refunds on cancelled holidays to relieve “the liquidity crisis” in the sector.

The European Travel Agents and Tour Operators’ Association (Ectaa) and EU Travel Tech, representing online agents and travel technology providers, called for a temporary amendment of EU legislation to allow voucher refunds to replace cash repayments to consumers.

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The industry associations’ call followed a discussion of voucher refunds at a meeting of EU transport ministers on Wednesday (April 29).

Ectaa and EU Travel Tech noted calls from several member states for “a coordinated and consistent EU solution to the current cash flow and consumer protection challenges”.

In a statement, the associations said: “The entire air sector is facing a short-term liquidity crisis following national government instructions to cancel and ground flights.

“A harmonised solution at EU level is crucial to protect consumers, standardise expectations and restore consumer confidence . . . while ensuring the short term-financial stability and operation of all players in the travel distribution chain.”

Ectaa and EU Travel Tech urged: “These vouchers should be flexible in duration . . . the terms of the voucher explained in detail and the right to a full refund on voucher expiry explained clearly.”

The associations said a legal framework for the vouchers “would ensure the survival of industry jobs and travel companies”.

In separate statement, Ectaa called for a change to the EU Package Travel Directive (PTD), declaring it “not fit for purpose to deal with the massive waves of cancellations since the generalised travel restrictions”.

Ectaa president Pawel Niewiadomski said: “The status quo prevailing for the past six weeks is not sustainable.”

EU Travel Tech, formerly Ettsa, represents travel technology companies including global distribution systems (GDSs), online travel agencies (OTAs) and metasearch sites.

Ectaa represents the national associations of travel agents and tour operators across Europe.

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