ABTA has announced that its RCNs will be valid until September 30, 2021 to help ease the pressure on members
ABTA has announced an extension to its current Refund Credit Note (RCN) regime, recognising the continuing impact of Covid-19 on the travel sector.
It said that the aim is to ensure that members have the option of issuing further ABTA-protected RCNs at a time when significant travel restrictions are still in place and member income is minimal.
ABTA-backed RCNs which have already been issued are valid only until the expiry date shown on them, which can be no later than March 31, 2021. The new RCNs will be valid up to and including September 30, 2021 at the latest. The deadline for issuing these RCNs is March 31 this year.
Refund Credit Notes work because customers are prepared to accept them as an alternative to an immediate refund and have confidence they will not ‘lose out’ in the long run. Maintaining the financial protection which backs RCNs is critical to keeping consumer confidence in them, and so that financial protection must be in place for the duration of an RCN’s validity.
John de Vial, ABTA’s director of membership and financial services said: “We have been speaking with the CAA about the importance of travel businesses having the option to offer customers a Refund Credit Note beyond the end of January, so we’re pleased they have responded to our calls and extended the deadline this week.
“At the same time, we have also been looking at our own Refund Credit Notes, which were valid until the end of January or March this year. Members will now have the option to issue Refund Credit Notes until the end of March with an expiry date of September 30, 2021. Full details, along with the criteria, can be found in the ABTA MemberZone. Hopefully this will help to ease some of the pressure on members at this very difficult time, and will help to support consumer confidence.”
ABTA continues to press government for support for travel sector
ABTA is encouraging members and the wider trade to write to their MPs again about the extreme challenges facing the sector and the urgent need for tailored financial support.
It follows a recent letter from ABTA to the prime minister Boris Johnson, ahead of further discussions about possible travel restrictions, to reiterate calls for financial help and a recovery roadmap for the whole sector, delivered in consultation with industry experts and public health authorities.
Last month the Save Future Travel Coalition wrote to secretary of state for transport, Grant Shapps, outlining considerations for reopening travel. The template letter calls on MPs to reach out to both Shapps and the chancellor of the exchequer ahead of the Budget on March 3, to urge them to consider providing tailored financial support to the sector and a roadmap out of the crisis by:
• Expanding existing grants schemes, in recognition of the unique regulatory restrictions placed on the travel sector. Targeted grants support will see many travel businesses through the crisis and into recovery.
• Extending other financial support mechanisms, such as furlough, VAT deferrals, business rates relief, loan re-payments, to avoid the impending financial cliff-edge facing many companies that have little or no revenue for approaching a year.
• Enabling travel businesses to trade our way out of the crisis, by setting out a plan to build consumer confidence while putting in place mitigation measures to ensure travel can operate in a risk-controlled manner.
The templates are available to download from abta.com/savefuturetravel for use by ABTA members and wider industry.
ABTA’s director of public affairs, Luke Petherbridge, said: “It is one year since the start of travel restrictions, which started with restrictions on Wuhan (China), but then spread quickly to cover all destinations by March. Travel was the first industry in the UK to be affected by this pandemic, and ONS data shows travel agents and tour operators are the hardest hit businesses.
“However, unlike other sectors such as hospitality, there hasn’t been any tailored financial support for the sector. While the vaccine rollout is positive, the industry cannot wait for the whole UK adult population to be vaccinated before travel restarts – and businesses cannot afford to lose another summer. We also know that many people have a desire to get back to experiences that they value highly and have missed dearly, including travel to visit family and friends abroad. ABTA will continue to press government for a roadmap out of the crisis and I urge members to do the same by getting in touch with their local MP.”