Dutch government funds 'voucher bank' to help travel industry issue refunds
The Dutch government has announced an investment of 400 million euros to support the travel industry in the Netherlands, providing funds to supplement the refunds companies will be expected to pay out in spring 2021, De Telegraaf reports.
Travel companies will have to start paying out in March 2021
Since the outbreak of coronavirus in the Netherlands back in the spring, international travel has come to a global standstill, and travel companies in the Netherlands have been issuing vouchers to customers who are no longer able to carry out their planned trips. However, even with a vaccine on the horizon, the end of the pandemic isn’t yet in sight, and the travel industry is struggling to stay afloat.
Companies have been issuing vouchers and refunds for months, and at least one million people in the Netherlands are expected to have received a voucher since March - amounting to a total value of almost one billion euros. If these vouchers are not used within a year, travel companies are expected to refund their customers the value of their vouchers - and March 2021 is fast approaching.
Therefore, the government will support the Dutch travel industry with a reported investment of 400 million euros into a voucher bank, or voucher fund, which will help struggling companies refund the vouchers. The fund will mean that, even if a company goes bankrupt, the money will be available to repay all customers.
The Dutch government's voucher fund
Speaking to NOS Radio 1 Journaal, Frank Oostdam, chairman of The General Dutch Association of Travel Agencies (ANVR), said the fund “will prevent a large number of companies from going bankrupt because they are unable to pay out vouchers.”
The Ministry of Economic Affairs is expected to provide further details on the investment later this week, but De Telegraaf reports they would lend a maximum of 50 million euros to each company. The fund will be available to companies belonging to the Stichting Garantiefonds Reisgelden (SGR).
Travellers are typically entitled to a refund within two weeks of the cancellation of their trip. However, the government made an exception considering the unprecedented circumstances, and gave companies more leniency in issuing vouchers instead of refunds.
Got questions about your rights if a trip is cancelled because of coronavirus? Read our comprehensive travel guide here.