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WTTC urges government and EU to be flexible on refunds

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has urged the UK government and EU authorities to "implement exceptional flexibility" in regard to consumer refunds to relieve pressure on the travel and tourism sector.

In a statement, the council said that increasing flexibility will have "a profound effect on reducing the intense financial strain being experienced by the majority of tour operator and travel agents, online and offline".

To alleviate the pressure, the council is calling on UK and EU governments to show "exceptional flexibility" in regard to existing Package Travel Requirements.

The statement said that the requirements are "not fit for purpose in the current crisis and should be suspended at least until August".

"Consumer protection will be unaffected, but travel agents and tour operators will have more time to refund those customers choosing to cancel their existing bookings. The current 14-day timeline for refunds is putting enormous burdens on businesses in the Travel & Tourism sector and will lead to major bankruptcies. These, in turn, will lead to more claims by consumers on credit card firms and ultimately government bonded schemes," the statement said.

Gloria Guevara, WTTC president and CEO, commented: “This measure should be implemented immediately and help lift the already crushing financial pressure on Travel & Tourism organisations and save the millions of livelihoods that depend on them.”

WTTC research found that one million travel and tourism jobs are being lost in the UK, along with at least 6.4 million across the EU and 75 million globally due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Image credit: Chris Lensicle

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