Travel companies ignore Rutte and OMT advice to not travel over Christmas
Travel companies in the Netherlands are ignoring the negative travel advice that was issued by the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) last week, and echoed by Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the press conference on Tuesday.
Travel companies say the government's travel advice is unclear
In spite of the fact that Rutte has asked people in the Netherlands to not travel internationally between now and mid-January unless absolutely necessary, travel companies are continuing to offer package holidays and flights to yellow-coded destinations.
The General Dutch Association of Travel Agencies (ANVR) says it is astonishing that the Dutch government advises against travel to yellow-coded areas. In a statement, ANVR says it isn’t logical that, on the one hand, the government says it is okay to travel to so-called yellow destinations, but on the other hand argues that people shouldn’t go. They say this causes problems for travel companies when it comes to customers cancelling trips and expecting refunds or vouchers.
Sunweb and TUI say they follow the “official travel advice” from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and adhere to the colour system drawn up by the government, offering trips to green and yellow destinations only. “The cabinet has not sufficiently looked at the situation at the destinations themselves, and this has caused confusion among travellers,” Martine Langerak, a spokesperson for Sunweb, told AD. “We only carry out trips to green and yellow areas.”
People in the Netherlands planning holidays to Curacao instead
Interestingly, Rutte emphasised at the press conference that the negative travel advice did not apply to the Dutch Caribbean islands. This has led to a surge in the number of holidays being booked in Curacao and Bonaire.
Travel agencies TUI and Corendon report a rush on holidays being booked in Curacao immediately after the press conference ended. The companies continue to offer trips to both islands, and a spokesperson for TUI told De Telegraaf that there was now more interest in holidays to these destinations than there had been in the past few months.
A spokesperson for Corendon - a travel company that has announced it will follow Rutte’s travel advice - explained the different travel advice was leading to confusion for many: “It is difficult to explain to customers that we do not offer travel to the Canary Islands as a result of one piece of government advice, while there is a yellow travel advice specifically for that destination.”