Government backs travel vouchers, refunds with another €150 million

A nearly abandoned D Concourse in Departures 1 at Schiphol, 10 March 2020
A nearly abandoned D Concourse in Departures 1 at Schiphol, 10 March 2020Federico Barrios, used with permission

The Dutch government will support the national travel guarantee fund SGR with another 150 million euros. The Cabinet approved the loan to incentivize consumers to accept a voucher for their cancelled travel plans.

The SGR fund provides customers with a refund of any prepaid money or repatriation should a Dutch travel provider go bankrupt. In a statement about the fund, the Dutch government expressed support for the practice of issuing vouchers instead of refunding cash, something which the European Commission said was not to be forced upon customers.

"This prevents travel providers from getting into financial difficulties, because otherwise they will have to repay the amount to the consumer within 14 days," the government said in a statement. At the same time, State Secretary Mona Keijzer, of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate, said customers should only accept vouchers if they have the financial ability to do so.

"That is not only annoying for all those consumers, the travel organizations are also struggling," she said. "That is why we are strengthening the SGR guarantee fund, so that the voucher scheme remains attractive to consumers. And there's no question that consumers will of course continue to be entitled to a refund."

The SGR fund was running into trouble because of the coronavirus crisis, necessitating the lending facility, the government said.