Britons who are issued refund credit notes for cancelled package holidays will get their money back even if a travel firm collapses, transport secretary Grant Shapps confirmed today.
The Government will underwrite credit notes for customers whose trips are, or have been, disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The protection will be backdated to March 10 and will extend to September 30. Travellers will be able to cash in or use their refunds up until September 30, 2021.
British holidaymakers are owed as much as £4.6 billion as a result of coronavirus cancellations, down from a peak of around £7 billion.
“This news provides much-needed clarity for consumers, who should now feel confident that their money is secure if they have chosen to accept a refund credit note for their cancelled ATOL-protected booking,” said Paul Smith, consumer director at the Civil Aviation Authority.
By law, customers who book package holidays are entitled to receive a cash refund for any cancellations by the tour operator. To maintain cash flow during the pandemic, some travel companies offered refund credit notes in lieu of cash refunds.
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Consumer group responds to holiday refunds announcement
The consumer group, Which?, which since the start of the coronavirus crisis has called for the Government to confirm if refund credit notes are financially guaranteed, has responded to today’s announcement.
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said:
This announcement will be a huge relief to the countless customers who have accepted one in place of a cash refund […] people can now be confident their money is protected if they decide to support their tour operator by accepting a refund credit note, but it later goes bust. But package travel companies should not use this as an excuse to continue forcing credit notes onto their customers and must make clear when they have the right to a cash refund.
This is a positive step towards restoring trust in the travel industry. Holiday providers must do right by their customers – and the law – and return any outstanding refunds for cancelled holidays. Otherwise, the regulator must be ready to take strong action against those continuing to flout the law on refunds.
London ponders its future as pandemic turns capital into a ghost town
The capital has transformed from the country’s economic powerhouse to a ghost town devoid of activity, according to a plethora of live growth signals tracked by economists, reports Tom Rees.
It is suffering a deeper downturn and slower recovery than all other towns and cities in the UK and capitals in Europe.
Last week footfall in central London was down 73 per cent compared to a year earlier, worse than anywhere in the UK.
Visiting the beach boosts wellbeing, government research finds
People spending time by the sea reported increased happiness, better general health and were more physically active during their visit, compared to visits to other types of environment, according to a new review.
The government is planning to build on this research and find out whether this increased level of activity would improve obesity levels and reduce vitamin D deficiency.
A fire has broken out at Nantes cathedral
Firefighters are battling a blaze at Nantes cathedral in western France after a fire broke out early this morning.
Pictures from the scene show a substantial fire and smoke coming out of the 15th century building. This comes just a year after the major fire at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, which destroyed its roof and main spire.
US coronavirus cases rise by 70,000 for second consecutive day
Coronavirus cases in the US rose by at least 70,674 on Friday after climbing by a record 77,499 on Thursday.
This was largest increase recorded by any country since the pandemic started, according to a Reuters tally.
Coronavirus cases are rising in 41 of 50 states, according to a the news wire’s analysis.
Cornish village named best seaside town
The tiny Cornish village of St Mawes has been named Britain’s best seaside destination as places with seafood delicacies outperformed traditional holiday hotspots.
Consumer group Which? asked 4,000 holidaymakers their favourite seaside towns and ranked them on a series of measures including food and drink options, beaches and value for money.
Making up the rest of the top five were:
British tourists heading for Brittany warned of a spike in coronavirus cases
British holidaymakers heading to Brittany this summer were warned on Friday about a sharp coronavirus spike that could signal a second deadly wave of the virus in the hugely popular French region.
At least 110 new cases of Covid-19 have been detected since July 10, and the disease’s reproduction – or R – value rose from 0.92 to 2.62 in the four days up to July 14. An R value of less than 1 is needed to gradually contain the disease, as the French thought they were doing since slowly coming out of lockdown from May.
The mayors have also warned arriving holidaymakers, including ones from the UK, to be extremely wary, and to self-isolate if necessary.
What happened yesterday?
Here’s a recap of Friday’s major travel news:
British Airways to retire entire fleet of Boeing 747 jumbo jets
Spain’s most popular beaches empty despite easing restrictions
UK ‘very unlikely’ to be on Ireland’s green list for quarantine-free travel
Barcelona could be on the cusp of lockdown as virus returns