Until now, in the event of cancellation of a package holiday or package tour (at least two services booked jointly or offered by a travel agency or tour operator) by the organizer, you could claim a refund for the whole trip.
In view of the enormous difficulties that will affect the tourism sector, several European Union countries have or will change the rules on cancellations of package tours. Depending on the law applicable to your contract (check the general terms and conditions of your contract) the following rules apply:
Following the Grand-Ducal Regulation of 27 March 2020: “reimbursement in the event of cancellation of the package travel contract, either at the initiative of the traveller or at the initiative of the organizer, is suspended.”
In Luxembourg, the state of crisis officially ended on the 24th of June 2020, the Grand-Ducal Regulation of 27 March 2020 is no longer in effect. The rule stating that consumers have to be reimbursed within 14 days is applicable again. (Code de la Consommation)
For any trip cancellation notified between 01/03/2020 and 15/09/2020, the travel agency is entitled to offer a voucher valid for at least 18 months. If the voucher is not used during its period of validity, it must be reimbursed in full after 18 months.
If only part of the voucher is used because the new trip is cheaper, the remaining amount is still valid and can be used to purchase another trip or another service. The remaining amount will have to be refunded after 18 months if it is finally not used.
The insolvency insurance, which until now only applied to travel contracts, has been extended to vouchers. This means that in the event of the bankruptcy of the travel agency or tour operator that issued the voucher, you should be able to obtain a refund of the sums involved.
Ordinance n°2020-315 of 25 March 2020
Based on the Ministerial Decree on the refund of cancelled package travels of 19 March 2020 (http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/mopdf/2020/03/20_2.pdf#Page12), modified by the Ministerial Decree of 03/04/20 (http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/mopdf/2020/04/06_2.pdf#Page5), the situation is as follows: since 20/03/20 and until 20/06/20, when a package travel is cancelled by the tour operator or by the traveller, the traveller is obliged to accept, instead of a refund, a voucher corresponding to the value of the amount paid.
This voucher must represent the full value of the amount already paid by the traveller, it must be free of charge for the traveller, it must be valid for at least one year and it must clearly indicate that it was issued as a result of the coronavirus crisis. The voucher which is not used by the traveller within one year of its issue shall be reimbursed at his request. The tour operator must reimburse the traveller within six months.
The voucher is covered by an insurance in the event of the insolvency of the tour operator, which guarantees a full refund to the traveller in the event of a bankruptcy of the tour operator.
In Germany, there have been no legal changes so far regarding the cancellation of package travels. This means that travellers still have the right to demand the reimbursement of the travel price if the organiser has cancelled the trip (e.g. due to Corona). The traveller also has the right to cancel a package travel at any time. In this case, however, cancellation fees are usually charged, unless the cancellation was due to exceptional circumstances. In the current situation with the Corona pandemic, this is probably the case in most cases, so a cancellation should be possible without cancellation fees. However, it is always advisable to speak to the travel agency or the tour operator first. Also, travellers are currently being asked to accept vouchers etc. instead of reimbursement of the travel price in order to avoid mass insolvencies in the tourism industry.
The consumer and the Company can both cancel the trip because of the rules of the governement prohibiting to travel to the most affected areas (published by the governement) and in these cases there are no penalties to the consumer.
- Real Decreto Ley 11/2020. Art 36. Cancellation of tourist trips (package travel)
In the event of package travel contracts, which have been canceled due to COVID19, the organizer or, where appropriate, the retailer, may deliver to the consumer or user a voucher to be used within one year from the end of the validity of the state of alarm and its extensions, for an amount equal to the refund that would have been due.
After the period of validity of the voucher without having been used, the consumer may request a full refund of any payment made. In any case, the eventual offer of a temporary substitute bond must have sufficient financial support to guarantee its execution.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, the organizer, or if applicable the retailer, must proceed to make a refund to consumers and users in the event that they request the termination of the contract, in accordance with the provisions of section 2 of article 160 of the consolidated text of the General Law for the Defense of Consumers and Users and other complementary laws, provided that the service providers included in the package travel contract had fully returned the amount corresponding to their services.
If only some of the combined trip service providers make the return to the organizer or, where appropriate, to the retailer, or the amount returned by each of them is partial, the consumer or user will be entitled to the partial refund corresponding to the returns made, being discounted from the amount of the bonus delivered by the termination of the contract.
The organizer or, where appropriate, the retailer, will proceed to make the aforementioned refunds within a period not exceeding 60 days from the date of the termination of the contract or from that in which the service providers had proceeded with their return.