COVID-19: Insolvency protection for Irish package travel
Legal provisions were enacted on 19 June 2020 by the Irish Government to ensure that special Covid-19 refund credit notes issued by Irish-licensed travel agents and tour operators will be protected by a state guarantee, in the event that the issuer becomes insolvent and goes out of business.
The Package Holidays and Travel Trade Act 1995 gives travellers the right to a refund of all payments where a package holiday is cancelled by the traveller or organiser due to unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances. At present, consumers are entitled to a full cash refund where a package holiday has to be cancelled because of Covid-19 restrictions, a short-term, emergency measure established by the Transport (Tour Operators and Travel Agents) Act 1982 (Disbursements from Fund) Regulations 2020 (S.I. 218 of 2020), per S.I. No. 219 of 2020.
This is a sample of what the credit note should look like.
Where consumers agree to accept a voucher as a refund credit note, they will be able to book another package holiday in the future with the travel agent/tour operator that issued said credit note. Its value must be equal to the amount paid for the original booking, or less than the amount paid, where a part cash refund has previously been given, and will also take account of any vouchers provided by airlines to the customer for travel that forms part of the package. A full list of licensed and bonded travel agents and tour operators in Ireland can be found here.
The refund credit note protection extends to all customers of travel agents and tour operators licensed by the Commission for Aviation Regulation in relation to package holiday arrangements within the Republic of Ireland where a booking has been cancelled by the organiser or the traveller due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.
The refund credit note:
- extends to travel-only sales where the departure is from Ireland
- is enforced by the Commission for Aviation Regulation (aviationreg.ie), which will host the claim process on its website, and will administer refunds due
- has a validity of 24 months from the date of issue
- can be redeemed for its value in cash 9 months from date of issue
- must be refunded no later than 14 days after a refund request by the consumer
- is transferable to another person, free of charge
Further details are contained in this guide:
For further information on package travel consumer rights in Ireland, you may refer to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission here.