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State to guarantee refunds for holiday-makers as ministers approve support for travel agents

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THE government has approved proposals to support coronavirus-hit travel agents.

Transport, Tourism and Sport Minister Shane Ross brought the plans to protect the travel trade industry to Cabinet.

The help is to come as a State guarantee in the form of a refund credit note for package holidays booked though Irish-registered travel agents and tour operations.

The notes can be offered by the travel industry to customers in circumstances where they are not able to provide a cash refund or a full cash refund.

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Outgoing Sports Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Outgoing Sports Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

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Outgoing Sports Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

The credit not can be to the value of the full refund or partial refund alongside cash.

It will be redeemable for its cash value after six months and can be used to book a replacement holiday at any stage.

The credit note will be State-guaranteed in the event that the travel agent or tour operator becomes insolvent.

Mr Ross said these are very difficult days for consumers who have booked holidays.

He also said it's been difficult for the tourism industry and the many travel agents and tour operators who have seen their businesses face near collapse in recent months.

The Refund Credit Note is said to be an attempt to strike a balance between preventing sector-wide bankruptcy with associated job losses and consumer rights.

This evening Mr Ross said: "The travel restrictions imposed across the world in response to the Covid-19 pandemic have led to the widespread cancellation of holidays during March, April and May, with many people having to postpone holiday, wedding and honeymoon plans."

He said that under the EU Travel Package Directive, people who have had to cancel such bookings because of the Covid-19 travel are entitled to a cash refund, and that entitlement will continue to apply.

Mr Ross added: "However, it is also the case that many travel agents and tour operators are having severe cash flow problems, and it is not clear that all of them will be able to meet all of their current cash refund obligations and at the same time be able to stay in business.

"The Government has therefore agreed to back a new refund credit note that travel agents and tour operators can offer their customers."

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