Bratislava, May 20 (TASR) – Travel agencies in Slovakia will be granted more than a year to resolve travels that were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Igor Matovic (OLaNO) along with Economy Minister Richard Sulik (Freedom and Solidarity/SaS) stated at a briefing on Wednesday.
People over the age of 70 will be able to get their money for tours right away.
As follows from the material prepared by the Economy Ministry, which was approved by the Government on Wednesday, if because of an emergency situation in Slovakia or a similar situation at the destination of a package tour it is not possible to provide the passenger with basic features of tourism services, the travel agency can offer the customer a change in the agreement on travel, or send him a notification of an alternative trip, if the holidaymaker does not accept the proposed amendment to the contract.
“The travel agency is obliged to agree with the travellers on the provision of a substitute trip no later than on August 31, 2021,” reads the material from Sulik’s ministry. If this does not happen, the travel agency has withdrawn from the contract and is obliged to return all payments to the holidaymaker, no later than on September 14, 2021.
In the context of tours, the Government has also proposed that the government bill be approved by Parliament in a fast-tracked legislative procedure as significant economic damage can occur. “The bill aims to mitigate the economic consequences for travel agencies and travellers, in response to the current situation regarding the spread of COVID-19,” says the material.
“We drew inspiration from the Czech Republic,” said Sulik. Such a solution has already been adopted by 12 countries.
The Travel Agencies Bill is the worst possible variant, MP Richard Rasi (Smer-SD) stated at a press briefing on the same day, adding that the law in practice means that “Slovaks are deprived, and travel agencies are given”.
Smer-SD MPs propose that the Government withdraw and revise the bill. They also suggest direct support for travel agencies.
“The Government saves through payments of people,” said Rasi, adding that according to the current legislation, if a person does not go on vacation, the travel agency must, in justified cases, return the money within 14 days.
“According to this bill, which is now in Parliament, the travel agency will not return the money until September 14, 2021, that is in 482 days,” stressed Rasi. According to him, another problem is the fact that through this act the Cabinet violates the law of the European Union. “It’s already been announced that this law will be challenged by the European Commission, as well as in other countries where they are trying to adopt such a measure,” he added.
Another Smer-SD MP Ladislav Kamenicky also criticises the use of the fast-tracked legislative procedure. “Again, we see that this is hastily adopted legislation, which we basically had to study very quickly,” added Kamenicky. He emphasises that the agreement between the client and the travel agency should definitely be on a voluntary basis, as is the case abroad.