Travel industry in emergency money shortage
Corona-canceled travel means that the Norwegian travel industry owes its customers a considerable amount. The deadline for payment within 14 days is not possible without government assistance.
The Corona measures have meant that the travel industry has stopped completely.
– In case of cancellation, the customer will have a full refund and the money back in the account within 14 days, says Astrid Bergmål, director of Virke Reiseliv, to VG.
Friday is thus the deadline to refund money that tourists have paid for the first canceled holiday packages.
The Package Travel Act applies to both those who send Norwegians abroad in packages of both travel and stay, and those who sell package tours in Norway to foreigners.
A bankruptcy race is imminent – unless the authorities intervene, Virke believes.
The government has already announced a new crisis package for the business community on Friday, and the parties to the Storting have ordered such a package. Last weekend, all parties in the Finance Committee, continue from MDG, expressed that the government had to consider “proposals that can remedy liquidity problems arising from canceled travel on the basis of the Package Travel Act”.
– There is no doubt that the country’s tourism companies in particular have a very demanding time. This is what we take most seriously, in the work that we are now putting in to assist Norwegian business, says State Secretary Jan Christian Kolstø (V) in the Ministry of Trade and Industry to VG.
Kolstø did not have any specific promises to the companies when he was presented with the issue on Wednesday evening.
– The measures that have been put forward so far will remedy the situation, also for players in tourism. But more is needed. The government is continuously working to find effective measures, but we cannot go into any specific measures we are considering now, except that we are working on the crisis package announced by the Minister of Finance, he writes in an email to VG.
The Travel Guarantee Fund covers up for any customers’ losses, but that does not, according to Virke, help the travel companies.
– The fund covers claims against the companies after they have ended. We are committed to saving the tour operators before they go bankrupt, says Astrid Bergmål to VG.
According to Statistics Norway, tour operators and travel agencies have a combined turnover of NOK 35 billion annually.
Although a significant portion of the volume covers Norwegians’ package tours abroad, many small companies in Norway organize Norwegian holidays. Everything is now canceled, according to Bergmål.
– 97 percent of our members report a sharp decline in demand for their products. The others answer “don’t know”, says Virke’s tourism manager.
Since the first Corona measures came into force on March 12, many tour operators have until Thursday, March 26 to repay the money to customers who have canceled the trip.
“A number of tour operators will then face serious liquidity challenges. It is quite obvious that they will not succeed without the help of the state. If travel restrictions should go out in time, the reimbursement amounts will be even greater, and the situation correspondingly more difficult. More and more people will go bankrupt, ”Virke writes in the letter to the Minister of Industry.