Vouchers for Unused Trips Approved, Croatian Travel Agencies Pleased

Daniela Rogulj

April 8, 2020 – The Croatian Travel Agencies Association is grateful that their proposal to offer travel vouchers has been approved. 

HRTurizam reports that on Tuesday in Parliament, along with a package of other measures aimed at mitigating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, changes were also made to the Law on Emergency Tourism Services, which allowed travel agencies to issue vouchers instead of refunding passengers for package arrangements.

“We are grateful to the Ministry of Tourism, the Croatian Government, and the Parliament for accepting our proposals to allow issuing vouchers for unfulfilled travel agreements that should have occurred in these extraordinary circumstances, i.e., after March 1, 2020. The passenger is fully protected as they receive a voucher they can use for another trip or a deferred travel period once the situation calms,” said UHPA President Tomislav Fain.

Fain also added that the voucher would be covered by the already arranged bail to protect travel agencies from going bankrupt. 

“The traveler is also entitled to a refund if he or she does not wish to use the previously paid and booked travel, upon expiry of 180 days from the termination date of the special circumstances, and for a full refund within 14 days.”

“As members of the European Association of National Travel Agencies and Travel Organizers (ECTAA), we have engaged in negotiations with the European Commission, which has instructed consumers to accept travel delays and vouchers. In communication with ECTAA colleagues from many countries such as France, Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Italy, Poland who, in cooperation with their Governments, have also introduced a voucher in some form, we have come to a satisfactory solution and we are very pleased. We are glad that both our Ministry of Tourism and the Government has accepted the proposal and have a strong understanding of the sector, which is in an unprecedentedly difficult situation,” said the President of the Association of Travel Agencies, HGK Boris Žgomba, also a member of the Board of Directors of ECTAA.

The agencies, apart from the new bookings and inflow of any funds stalled since February, could not even reach the funds for the already booked trips as the money had already been passed on to others in the package like airlines and hotels.

Most of the same refunds were provided to agencies in the form of deposits, vouchers, time delays and often nothing. In previously applicable provisions of the Act that transposed the EU Directive, travel agencies were in a difficult situation and forced to bear the brunt of the crisis on their own, even before the further escalation in the rest of the economy.

Already in the HGK and UHPA polls in February, 92 percent felt strong and medium adverse effects on long-term business, as school trips, congresses, and business trips stopped, along with restrictions on international travel and guest arrivals from Asia and other focal countries. This impact has only increased over the past month, with the closure of all borders and activities.

Of the 2061 registered travel agency companies and tour operators, 99.3% of them are small or micro-companies, and these losses represent an enormous blow to business, and as often are family businesses, this is directly the income of their entire families.

The Association of Croatian Travel Agencies (UHPA) and the Association of Travel Agencies (UPA HGK) represent the leading professional associations in tourism that represent the interests of over 2000 registered companies for the activity of travel agencies and tour operators and employ nearly 6,500 people.

To read more about travel in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.


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