There are calls for the government to amend its package travel regulations (PTRs) to ease the burden on travel businesses during the coronavirus crisis.
Travel agents, tour operators and other travel businesses are processing an unprecedented wave of refunds and rebookings owing to cancellations arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, which has seen countries shut their borders and the Foreign Office advice against all non-essential travel worldwide for an indefinite period.
Under the PTRs, where a package arrangement cannot be fulfilled, customers are due a refund within 14 days. This is manageable in the event of a single travel company collapsing, or the Foreign Office advising against all but essential travel to a single specific destination.
However, as consumers act as tacit creditors for travel businesses by paying for their holidays months in advance of the date of travel, most companies do not have the cash to process refunds en masse.
ABTA is advising businesses offer a temporary credit note, which can be used to book a future holiday to the same value, or otherwise be refunded at a later date once the scheme is put on a legal footing and the immediate Covid-19 crisis for businesses has abated.
ABTA has issued a statement for customers concerned about their consumer rights, which can be read here. The association has also launched a ‘Save Future Travel’ campaign, urging travel businesses to contact their local MP to inform them of the effect the pandemic is having on their livelihoods. To sign up, click here.