Second anti-crisis shield for tourism comes into force

On Thursday, the second so-called “tourism shield” is launched, which introduces several solutions to help the tourism industry. These include the Tourist Refund Fund which will refund tourists for cancelled trips.

The amendment to the Act of September 17 on special arrangements for preventing and combating COVID-19, other infectious diseases and crisis situations caused by them, which is coming into force, regulates, among other things, the issue of refunds of money for trips that had been paid for and did not take place because of the pandemic.

The regulations are intended to help the tourist industry. The Tourist Returns Fund will refund tourists for cancelled trips. New regulations also create a Tourist Assistance Fund, which is supposed to secure travel agencies in the future.

The amendment also introduces idle time pay and exemption from Social Security contributions for coach carriers, people engaged in cultural and artistic activities, hotel managers, or tourist agents.

The amendment resulted from the so-called "Anti-Crisis Shield 1.0" adopted in March, according to which travel agencies could offer travel vouchers to customers if their event did not take place due to the outbreak of the epidemic. The second option was to return the money. In this case, however, the customer would have to wait up to 180 days.

The aim of these regulations was to provide liquidity to travel companies, which found themselves in a very difficult situation due to the crisis. Nevertheless, as the development department revealed earlier, by the end of June less than 30% of travellers decided to accept the voucher.

The Development Ministry explained that in order for a tour operator to receive money from the Tourist Refund Fund to return funds for a cancelled trip, it will have to meet several conditions. These are: accepting payments from tourists in non-cash form; being entered in the register of tour operators; submitting an application to the Insurance Guarantee Fund through the ICT system, which will determine the amount of the payment; providing a statement by the traveller that due to a pandemic he withdraws from the contract; providing a statement that, as the tour operator, he did not give the traveller a voucher, did not refund the payments, and that he undertakes to refund the payment under certain conditions.