With the voluntary voucher solution, the German government is complying with the provisions of the EU’s Package Travel Directive and recommendations of the European Commission. Given the ongoing crisis, the aim is to avoid pushing organisers into insolvency.
The following regulations are planned:
- For travel booked prior to 8 March 2020, which could not take place as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, travel organisers can offer customers vouchers for the sum paid, rather than an immediate reimbursement. The organiser must inform customers that they are entitled to choose between a voucher and immediate reimbursement.
- The customer must not be charged any fees for issues, transferring or redeeming the voucher.
- The German government will guarantee the full amount of the voucher with a supplementary state guarantee in addition to the statutory protection against insolvency of the organiser. This is intended to make the vouchers attractive to customers, whose position will be improved. Should a large number of customers insist on immediate repayment, they might push the organiser into insolvency, meaning that it might not be possible to enforce their entitlement to reimbursement.
- The vouchers apply only to cancellations resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and the guarantees will apply for a limited period. They can be redeemed once the current travel restrictions are lifted.
- Travellers who do not wish to accept the voucher will receive the immediate reimbursement to which they are entitled.
- If the voucher is not redeemed by the end of 2021, the value of the original price paid must be paid immediately to the customer.
In addition to the value, the voucher must state:
- That it has been issued as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; it must also state how long it is valid
- That the customer is entitled to request immediate reimbursement of the sum already paid if the voucher has not been redeemed within the period of validity
- That the voucher is also covered by a state guarantee in the event of insolvency on the part of the travel organiser.
If customers have already received vouchers rather than an immediate reimbursement for travel booked prior to 8 March 2020, which could not take place as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, before this legislation comes into effect, these vouchers are to be modified and brought into line with the provisions of the new legislation.