PORTUGAL has launched a ‘don’t cancel, postpone,’ campaign offering holidaymakers vouchers to postpone their holidays instead of cancelling them.
According to the country’s Secretary of State for Tourism, Rita Marques, Portugal will give vouchers to tourists forced to cancel their holiday plans in Portugal because of the Covid-19 pandemic. These vouchers will allow tourists to reschedule their holiday until the end of 2021.
The new scheme comes into effect tomorrow (Friday) and will initially apply to bookings for the dates between March 13 and September 30 of this year, made through accredited travel agencies, hotels or Airbnb holiday accommodation. The vouchers will be valid until December 31, 2021 and will be eligible for a refund in 2022 if tourists are unable to make the trip during this time frame, according to Marques. Those who become unemployed between now and September 30 can also request a full refund, she added during a virtual conference today.
“We are being absolute pioneers in the European context. Our priority is to safeguard consumer rights and the interests of economic operators, according to the principle of ‘don’t cancel, postpone’,” stated Marques.
Portugal is considered to be a relatively safe destination for many holidaymakers, with many holidaymakers planning on travelling to Portugal later this year. Raul Martins, President of the Association of Portuguese Hotels (AHP), said yesterday that he expects the majority of hotels to reopen in July, “but some will probably open in June, with a special sanitary guarantee” to reassure tourists and clients that it is a coronavirus-free establishment.
Hotels are already preparing “Covid-19 free credentials” through health and safety certifications for hotels, as well as coronavirus tests, in a bid to open by this summer, as reported.
According to AHP, tourism is predicted to suffer catastrophic losses of around 1.4 billion euros of revenue for just the months between March and June of this year. Unfortunately, global lockdowns have thrown the Portuguese tourism industry into turmoil, threatening nine years of record revenue in a sector cited to be ‘the main driver’ of the Portuguese economy.
The sector accounts for more than 10 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product and employs around 320 million people. To help get the industry back on its feet, the Portuguese government also launched a €1.7 billion fund last month to support the tourism sector through the crisis.