April 22, 2024

Taylor Daily Press

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De Bleecker: “There are still 135 million Corona vouchers in circulation” for travel

De Bleecker: “There are still 135 million Corona vouchers in circulation” for travel

Almost half of the Corona vouchers, which were issued to people whose travel was canceled at the start of the Corona epidemic, had not yet been used. It represents an amount of approximately 135 million euros. Minister of State for Consumer Protection Eva de Bleecker (Open Vld) said this on Friday. The government launched the Corona Coupon Bank: Travel organizers can borrow money to pay the coupons owed to customers. They won’t receive the money until December, while vouchers have already been redeemed since September.

The coupons were created at the beginning of the Corona epidemic. Consumers whose flight has been canceled can book a new flight with it later. In this way, they wanted to avoid bankruptcy of travel agencies because they had to pay for canceled flights en masse.

The vouchers were valid for one year to book a new flight. Those who have not yet done so can request a refund. Then the tour operator had six months to make the payment to the client. So the first travel vouchers had to be redeemed in September at the latest.

It now appears that about half of the Corona vouchers have yet to be used for a new flight, or an estimated €135 million. A large amount that the tour operators have to pay.

To make this possible, the federal government is launching the Corona Coupon Bank. Tour operators can get a loan from the state to pay off their clients. They can borrow a maximum of 3 million euros and a maximum of 80 percent of the total amount in the vouchers. They can also only use the funds to redeem the coupons due and must transfer the funds directly to the consumer. The annual interest rate on the loans is 3 percent and must be paid back within five years.

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Travel organizers wishing to contact the Corona Coupon Bank must inform the Federal Public Service Economy by November 16 at the latest. It will make a decision by early December and pay the borrowed money by December 31 at the latest.

The government loan, for which €210 million has been allocated, is an initiative of Finance Minister Vincent van Bettieghem (CD&V), Minister of Economy and Employment Pierre-Yves Dermann (PS) and Foreign Minister de Bleecker.

“Through the government loan solution, we guarantee the consumer the correct repayment and give financial oxygen to the travel organizers,” said de Bleecker. “I am especially thinking of small independent travel agencies, who have used their personal finances to keep their business alive.”