Cala Capitan beach in Alicante: not this year. Photo: Depositphotos.com
Disappointed would-be holidaymakers are demanding their money back as trust in the voucher system plummets amid fears of ‘a tsunami’ of bankruptcies, the Telegraaf said on Friday.
The paper said insurers, consumer organisation Consumentenbond and travel umbrella organisation ANVR have been reporting a growing number of people who have seen their travel plans scuppered by the coronavirus crisis and who now want to exchange their holiday vouchers for cash.
At the moment some €3bn worth of vouchers is outstanding, the paper estimated. ANVR package holidays are covered by the SGR guarantee fund until the end of the year but not privately booked flights. People holding holiday vouchers have the right to demand their money back from six months after the voucher has been given out.
It is doubtful whether travel companies will have the means to pay back large numbers of claimants, said Hendrik Noorderhaven, director of claim company EUclaim. ‘People are prepared to go to court if necessary. We have been handling thousands of claims already. (..) Most travel organisations are not complying to the requests for restitution and neither are foreign budget airlines,’ Noorderhaven said.
Meanwhile the first case to come to court, in Alkmaar, has been settled in favour of the claimant, the Telegraaf said.
Consumer organisation Consumentenbond said that people have ‘an absolute right to what can be a large amount of money’. ‘The sector is in trouble and those who are not dependent on the money could perhaps wait a bit longer. But people who need the money must definitely act,’ a spokesman for the organisation said.
The SGR guarantee fund, which covers the ANVR package holiday vouchers, runs out at the end of the year.
‘After that we can no longer guarantee a pay out,’ SGR chief Erik-Jan Reuver said. ‘But we are currently in talks with the economic affairs ministry to set up a voucher bank with long-term loans with easy conditions for tour operators to make good on their debts.’
The feasibility of a voucher bank is expected to be decided on by the end of October.
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