The Government Gazette* published the new regulations regarding cancellations in the tourism industry due to COVID-19. This regulation, allows hotels, travel agencies, airlines and ferry companies to offer a voucher for 18 months, instead of a cash refund on their deposit, for cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the new legislation (according to article 70 of the Act of Law issued on the 13th of April 2020), a fair balance is attempted to be reached, for both businesses and travellers. The travellers will be covered and not fear to lose their deposits or prepayments and will have the chance to use them towards a future date with the same company. At the same time, the liquidity of Greek companies will be addressed, in an effort to limit the losses from mass cancelled trips, that could easily lead to businesses failing to continue their operation (and customers to receive any form of compensation).
It is very important to mention that, at the end of the 18 month period, in case the customers were not able to travel, the vouchers become invalid and the businesses are obliged to refund the customers in full.
In detail, for hotels and travel agency bookings, the 18-month voucher concerns cancellations that have been made by either the business or the customer due to the pandemic. It includes individual travels and travels that are part of packages, for trips between February 25 and 30 September 2020. This new regulation officially concerns cancellations that the customer is entitled to a refund due to the cancellation. For deposits or prepayments that are not entitled to a refund, the tourism enterprises are advised to follow the same strategy. The customers are also advised to use the offered vouchers, if possible, instead of waiting for a refund after 18 months.
If the customers choose to use the voucher for a service that its total value is less than the value of the voucher, it is the customer’s choice to either receive a new voucher for the remaining value (with new duration agreed between the parties) or receive the remaining difference as a refund when the original voucher expires (at the end of the original 18 month period).
If the customers choose to use greater value than the original deposit, then the excess amount is to be paid directly to the business.
Regarding flight bookings, the customers will receive a voucher for 18 months, that will be available for use from/to any destination operated by the Greek Airline. Again here, this is for flights that were to be completed with the period 25 February to 30 September 2020.
For bookings made with Greek coastal ferries, the same as the airlines apply, but for the dates 25 February until 31 October 2020.
In conclusion, if you have a reservation with a Greek company and have already paid for the service in part or fully, you will be offered an 18-month voucher to use the same amount at a later date. If you don’t use it, then you will be refunded after that period. It is advised to use it if possible, as it is the safest way to ensure that you will get the service you paid for.
*(The Government Gazette is the official journal of the Government of Greece which lists all laws passed in a set time period ratified by Cabinet and President)