Coronavirus and package holidays: this is what you need to know!

What are your rights if a package holiday is cancelled because of the coronavirus? Do you have to pay for a trip if it will probably be cancelled? What should you pay attention to when accepting a voucher? What can you do if the tour operator refuses to refund your money? On this page, you can read everything you need to know about travelling in times of corona.

How we can help you

The European Consumer Centre informs you about your consumer rights in the EU, provides free legal advice in cross-border disputes, and mediates if you and the tour operator cannot work it out together. Our website offers information, tips and sample letters that will help you take the right steps.

Coronavirus and package holidays: this is what you need to know! - ECC Netherlands

Good to know

Can a tour operator change my package holiday after booking?

The tour operator is allowed to change a package holiday in some situations. Your rights vary from situation to situation. This depends on the type of change and how much this change will impact your journey. 

Minor change in a package holiday

A tour operator may make a minor change after booking the package holiday, without your permission. A minor change is, for example, changing or cancelling an excursion. The tour operator must inform you of this change.

Major change in a package holiday

A travel organisation may not make any major changes without your permission. A major change is an adjustment that drastically impacts your package holiday, for example a rebooking. You do not have to agree to this. Your options are: 

  • You accept the change: is the quality of the trip lower due to the change, for example because the accommodation is of a lower quality? Then you are entitled to an appropriate price reduction. 
  • You refuse the change: the tour operator may then decide to cancel the trip. In that case, you are entitled to a full refund of the price you paid. 

Conflict with tour operator about changes in a package holiday

Has the tour operator changed your package holiday and is there a dispute that you cannot resolve together? Then check whether the travel organisation is affiliated with a branch organisation such as the Dutch Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators ANVR. If this is the case, you can submit your complaint to the Travel Disputes Committee (Geschillencommissie Reizen). Alternatively, you may ask a court of law for a decision. Please note that this is subject to paying legal fees. 

Conflict with foreign tour operator? Ask ECC for assistance!

Do you have a conflict with a foreign travel agent based in the EU, Norway, Iceland or the United Kingdom? Then ask the ECC for legal assistance. View here what we do
 

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Can a tour operator rebook my package holiday?

Subject to your permission, a tour operator may change your package holiday in some circumstances. Has your trip been rebooked and does the new situation differ substantially from the original package? Then you have the right to disagree with the proposal. The tour operator may then cancel the package holiday. In the case of cancellation, you are entitled to a refund of your money.

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What am I entitled to in the event of cancellation of the package holiday by operator?

If a tour operator cancels your package holiday, for example because of a new outbreak of the coronavirus at your holiday destination, you are entitled to a modified trip, a rebooking or a refund of your money if the trip is cancelled. 

Corona voucher if a package holiday is cancelled

Have you booked a package holiday with a tour operator affiliated with a travel guarantee fund such as the Travel Compensation Fund (Stichting Garantiefonds Reisgelden SGR), Guarantee Fund for Specialised Tour Operators (Garantiefonds voor Gespecialiseerde Touroperators GGTO), STO Garant or VZR Garant guarantee schemes? Did your tour operator cancel your trip? Then you will be offered a corona voucher instead of a refund. Such vouchers comply with the basic principles of the voucher scheme of the Netherlands Authority for Consumers & Markets ACM.

Your right to refuse a voucher

When cancelling your package holiday, the tour operator may offer you a corona voucher as an alternative to the refund. This voucher should not be imposed on you. Are you refusing the voucher? Then you are still entitled to a refund of your money. 
 

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Can I refuse a corona voucher if my trip is cancelled?

When cancelling your package holiday, a tour operator may offer you a corona voucher as an alternative to the refund. This voucher should not be imposed on you. Are you refusing the voucher? Then you are still entitled to a refund of your money.

You can read all about these vouchers in the section 'Corona voucher: this is what you should know‘. 
 

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Do I have to pay for my trip if it will probably be cancelled?

When booking a package holiday, you agree to the travel contract and payment terms of the tour operator. You are entering into a payment obligation. Whether you actually have to pay the full travel sum depends on the situation. 

Package tour can go ahead as planned

Can the package tour go ahead as agreed when booking the trip? Then you are obliged to pay as agreed. 

Package tour is likely to be cancelled

Has the time come for you to pay the travel sum or the balance and is it likely that the holiday cannot go ahead as agreed? For example, if there an entry ban applies for your holiday destination. In that case, you may delay payment until there is clarity. Ask the tour operator to extend the payment term to approximately two to three weeks before your departure. For this purpose, you can use the ECC sample letter ‘Suspend remaining payment of summer holiday’. Downloadable in two languages. 

Package tour cancelled

If the tour operator cancels your package tour, you will no longer have to pay anything. If you made a down payment, you are entitled to a refund of your money. 
 

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Negative travel advice for holiday destination: will my package holiday go ahead as planned?

If the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a code orange or red travel advice, there is a good chance that the tour operator will rebook or cancel your package holiday. Does the tour operator not cancel your trip and do you think it is irresponsible and unsafe to travel to the holiday destination you have booked? Please contact the tour operator to discuss the options for changing, rebooking or cancelling your package holiday. 

Cancellation of a package holiday when code red applies

Travelling to a holiday destination with code red is not recommended by the government. If your package holiday is cancelled by the tour operator, you are entitled to a rebooking or a refund of your money. Would you rather cancel the trip yourself? Check with the tour operator if you may cancel the trip free of charge. 

Cancellation of a package holiday when code orange applies

Holiday destinations with code orange have implemented corona measures that disrupt daily life. Some destinations are even subject to an entry ban. Check with the tour operator if your trip will go ahead as planned, or will be changed or cancelled. Can you prove that it is irresponsible to travel to your holiday destination? Then you may probably cancel the trip free of charge. 

Cancellation of a package holiday when code yellow applies

Travelling to a holiday destination with code yellow is safe enough, according to the government. Corona measures have been implemented in this country that have a limited impact on your holiday and travel enjoyment. 

Please note: the travel advice may be changed at any time. Such changes may affect your trip. Check the travel advice for your holiday destination before and during your trip. 
 

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If I have a code green or yellow travel advice, can I cancel my trip free of charge?

Travelling to a holiday destination with a code green or yellow travel advice is not a problem. For these destinations, no or limited corona measures apply that could affect the trip. It is generally not possible to cancel your package holiday free of charge in this situation. Discuss this with the tour operator.

What you need to know about cancellation fees

When you book a package holiday, the tour operator incurs costs. This includes reserving a hotel or other accommodation, buying airline tickets or hiring staff, among other things. For this reason, the tour operator may charge cancellation fees.  

Amount of cancellation fee

Would you like to rebook or cancel your trip for fear of the coronavirus without a direct reason to do so, for example in the case of a code green or yellow travel advice? In that case, you will probably have to pay a cancellation fee. The closer to the date of departure, the higher the cancellation fee. You can check the amount of the cancellation fee in the general terms and conditions you received when booking your package holiday. These fees may never exceed the total travel sum. 
 

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What can I do in the event of another coronavirus outbreak during my trip?

In the event of a coronavirus outbreak at your holiday destination while you are travelling, you are entitled to help and assistance from the tour operator with whom you booked the package holiday. Therefore try to get in contact with the organiser as soon as possible. 

Assistance with repatriation (return journey)

Has a code red travel advice been issued for your destination? Then the area or country will probably be completely closed off. No date for lifting the entry and exit ban is known at this moment. The package tour operator is responsible for arranging the return journey for you as quickly as possible. This is called repatriation.

Assistance in the case of illness

If you become infected with the coronavirus before or during your holiday and end up in hospital for this reason, you may be able to claim from your travel or health insurance. Before you go on holiday, check what medical expenses are covered by your insurance company so that you are not confronted with any unpleasant surprises. 

Assistance from the government

If you are going on holiday, it is your own responsibility. In the event of a new coronavirus outbreak, authorities may take corona measures and impose (travel) restrictions again. The Dutch government will no longer bring back stranded passengers. 

Quarantine required

If you return from a code orange or red area, you must stay in quarantine at home for 14 days. Do not leave your home or place of residence and avoid contact with others as much as possible. If you develop any symptoms, contact your doctor or the Municipal Health Service GGD.
 

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What does an entry ban mean for my holiday?

An entry ban means that a country or an area is locked and not accessible to a certain group of people, such as travellers from other countries. Is there an entry ban for your holiday destination? In that case, the tour operator will probably not be able to carry out your package holiday. You are then entitled to a modified trip, rebooking or a refund of your money in the event of cancellation.

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About the ECC

How can the European Consumer Centre help me?

Do you live in the Netherlands and do you have a conflict with a foreign tour operator that you cannot resolve together? The European Consumer Centre will help you resolve your complaint. The tour operator must be established in another EU country, Norway, Iceland or the United Kingdom. Contact our legal specialists via the online form. Our legal aid is free. 

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