Key industry figures have said the government’s backing of refund credit notes has come “far too late”.
However, with 31 July the original date on the first RCNs, the move remains “useful”.
Aito director and former Abta chair Noel Josephides said: “It has come far too late, unfortunately.
“When we really needed the support of government, they were reluctant to give it."
‘RCNs fuelled a media frenzy’
Josephides continued: “The whole issue of RCNs fuelled a media frenzy against the travel industry, caused an enormous amount of wasted time trying to persuade consumers that there was no financial risk involved in accepting an RCN, and probably cost many travel industry jobs. It could yet cause company failures.”
He pointed out that the CAA has been paying out on RCNs, as per the Air Travel Trust’s terms of reference, in respect of the Shearings and Wallace Arnold collapse, “so the proof that the RCNs were always legal is there in black and white in front of them”.
“They (the DFT) just haven’t had the authority to say so before and to help the travel industry in its hour of need,” Josephides said.
Gary Lewis, chief executive of the Travel Network Group, said: “This is an important step to support the conversations travel businesses have with their customers.
“While it is very important to have official clarification from the government and the CAA that refund credit notes are financially protected under the Atol scheme, it is still alarming that it has taken this length of time to confirm something we already know.”
Lewis continued though: “The 31 of July is a very important date as this is the original date on the first credit notes that were provided to customers, and this is when a lot of refunds will crystallise and customers will expect money back.
“Therefore whilst it is disappointing that it has taken this length of time to get official support for the refund credit note, it is very useful that it has come before the end of July.”
Julia Lo Bue-Said, chief executive at Advantage Travel Partnership, also welcomed the “long awaited” announcement.
“This important move will certainly help to rebuild confidence in the industry which was severely damaged due to many passengers having to endure long waits for refunds as the pandemic hit.
“Even as the world begins to slowly reopen its doors, travel anywhere will remain an uncertain and complex experience, so it is vital that consumers can start to plan a holiday in the full knowledge they are protected if they cannot travel due to Covid-19-related issues.”
Advantage has created a check list for members to ensure that consumers understand new airport and destination protocols
The check list ensures the travel agent covers off all destination requirements for entry as well as reminds customers to review their insurance policies to ensure they are currently fit for purpose.
Bue-Said added since the recent announcement of a number of quarantine-free countries, Advantage had seen an “encouraging uplift in bookings”.