Many people around the world have been left with no summer holiday plans due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In fact, many holidaymakers have been forced to apply for refunds due to their holidays being cancelled by companies and airlines. Rather than offering cash refunds, some companies are offering travellers vouchers instead.
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And now, Spain is pushing for holidaymakers to be rewarded with vouchers with 100 percent protection.
Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Reyes Maroto told tourists leaders of the European Union that the voucher system would work if all countries in the EU joined the initiative.
She explained that Spain was in favour of offering the temporary measure.
She said: “Spain is in favour of temporarily allowing airlines to offer passengers vouchers instead of reimbursements, issued under uniform conditions for the entire EU.
“But, to guarantee the rights of passengers – in the face of possible insolvency of airlines – it would be necessary to create a European guarantee fund, given that the regulation is supranational in nature and a national solution would generate asymmetric protections for passengers according to each country.”
The EU has already suggested that travellers who are owed a refund should be persuaded to take the vouchers rather than cash.
But this would only apply if the offer was made more attractive by offering enhanced amounts and at least a year to use the vouchers.
By law, the owed money should be given back but the EU says it recognises both sides of the story.
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For example, cash flow and lack of finance has hit tourism agencies and airlines hard.
However, they are not the only ones who have faced hardship.
Tourists and customers have also been hit financially by COVID-19.
Ms Maroto also called for phased and coordinated steps in the EU for cross-border travel and tourism.
She especially defended the need to establish coordination between the Member States for the gradual return of tourism.
Spain and eleven other countries are pressing for a European Recovery Plan for the tourism sector that pays attention to the specific problems of the most affected countries and territories and, in particular, to the outermost regions and islands.
The tourism chief said Spain welcomed the recommendations on tourism and transport issued by the Commission on May 13 to restore freedom of movement and gradually lift coordinated border controls between member states and travel restrictions.
She also said that a “phased approach” to tourism is the best way to approach cross-border travel.
She added: “We believe that a phased approach, coordinated and agreed among Member States, is the best way to achieve a gradual normalisation of cross-border travel; therefore, we must coordinate to lift the confinement and quarantine regulations, as well as in the restoration of tourism and transport services.”
It comes as Spain’s Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya told the BBC Today programme that Spain is aiming to become the “safest destination in Europe”.
She also said that she hopes her country will open in June but that the popular Canary Islands and Balearics will be first.
Arancha also said that the bigger cities such as Madrid and Barcelona that have suffered most from COVID-19 will not be able to open to tourists straightaway.
She added: “Some of our territories, like the islands, are COVID-19 free. They can open faster.”
Additional reporting by Rita Sobot
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