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Economy

Cyprus Says Travel Agents Stiff Customers for COVID-19 Cancellations

Travel agents looking to get out of refunding clients for canceled trips to Cyprus because of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic should be investigated, the island’s consumers association said, asking the Commerce Ministry to intervene.

It wasn’t said if that was also being done by Greece’s Aegean Airlines, which has regular flights to the island and has refused to abide by European Union laws, issuing vouchers for possible future flights instead of returning money to customers with nothing done over it.

Media reports said that some travel agents are keeping money and refusing to issue refunds because they aren’t required to cover the COVID-19 crisis and can’t be forced except for bankruptcy, in which case they might not have the money to do it.

“According to the relevant legislation travel organizers are obliged to have insurance coverage or a bank guarantee that fully covers consumers in case of bankruptcy or insolvency,” the Consumers Association said, The Cyprus Mail reported.

“Unfortunately, after all the problems that have arisen with the offer of vouchers instead of the full refund of the money that consumers have paid for cancelled trips, another issue has appeared at the expense of consumers,” the group said.

The association said that at least some agencies were in violation of the law and have not lodged the required amounts to cover holiday guarantees and the government, desperate for tourists to return this summer, hasn’t stepped in to help or hold the companies to account.

The group said one travel agent had submitted a guarantee covering only 10 to 15 percent of the required amount without accounting what happened with the rest of the money paid up front by customers now apparently stiffed and with no recourse.

“The minister, in case the complaint of the Cyprus Consumers Association is proven, will have to assume its responsibilities and take corrective measures,” it added.

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