On the Beach and Loveholidays have refused and ABTA has opened an investigation
The British Association of Travel Agents (ABTA) announced on Wednesday that all its member agencies must offer a full refund on package tours to destinations that the British government has advised against travelling to, including Spain, according to Travelmole.
ABTA's board has met following the Foreign Office's statements at the end of July on the right of package holiday customers to be reimbursed if they are advised not to travel unless it is an essential trip to certain destinations.
ABTA's Executive Director, Mark Tanzer, commented that "this clarification from ABTA's Board is welcome and will reassure customers booking with ABTA members that package holiday protections still apply, despite the challenges of the current situation at COVID-19".
However, two members of the association, On the Beach and Loveholidays, have initially refused to automatically reimburse the amount of their Spanish holiday booked before the Ministry of Foreign Affairs published its advice against non-essential travel throughout the country.
In view of this situation, ABTA has initiated a preliminary investigation for both Loveholidays and On the Beach. The maximum sanction that can be imposed on them is expulsion from membership.
Mark Tanzer has explained that 'it is possible that members may be able to offer affected customers alternative destinations or travel dates, but ABTA has from the beginning of the crisis maintained the position that its members recognise refund obligations when they arise and work with customers to settle these obligations as soon as possible'.
"While we fully recognize the pressures that many members face today, the position of the ABTA Board on this reimbursement issue is in the best interest of customers, ABTA's membership as a whole and the package travel industry," concludes Tanzer.