The German tourism industry is lobbying hard for money-back vouchers like in other European countries to save holiday bookings for this year.
Several EU states, including France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy, are introducing schemes allowing travel agents to hand out vouchers to customers whose holidays were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In France, for example, the vouchers can be used for new bookings once the crisis is over or the payment is refunded if the voucher is not used within 18 months.
Such vouchers mean tour operators and travel agents do not have to refund customers for cancelled holidays and thus protect their cash-flow.
“Many EU states have already introduced voucher solutions to retain liquidity at travel agents and tour operators,” said Norbert Fiebig, president of the German Travel Industry Association (DRV). “What works well in our neighbouring countries should be possible here too,” he declared.
Market leader TUI Germany also supports the voucher scheme idea. CEO Marek Andryszak said in a letter to travel agency executives that such a solution would be “of great importance for the survival of the whole industry”.
The German government is intensively reviewing whether to permit such holiday vouchers, according to Thomas Bareiß, state secretary in the economics ministry. The German justice ministry is in contact with the European Commission about the proposal.
Meanwhile, both TUI and DER Touristik have decided not to reclaim travel agency commissions for bookings that have been cancelled in order to support liquidity among sales partners.
In another move to support sales, TUI is now taking long-term early bookings for summer 2021 holidays. The market leader has activated sales in travel agency reservation systems for 100 group brand hotels and a further 10,000 hotels. These lie in major destinations such as Spain, Greece and Egypt but also in other short-haul and long-haul countries.
One idea behind the extremely early launch of summer 2021 holidays is to support parents who cannot work from home offices and who have been forced to take paid holidays already to care for their children because of school closures. These families are now unlikely to go on summer holidays this year.