Govt must restructure travel agent reimbursement scheme

New Zealanders could miss out on half a billion dollars’ worth of travel credits and refunds if changes to the Consumer Travel Reimbursement Scheme aren’t made, National’s Commerce and Consumer Affairs spokesperson Todd McClay says.

Mr McClay has written to Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark on behalf of the thousands of travel agents affected calling on him to restructure the reimbursement process so that they can continue to recover bookings on behalf of consumers.

“Over the past year travel agents have been working hard to secure refunds and credits for overseas holidays reserved by their customers. They have done a good job returning $430 million to Kiwi households. In doing so they have incurred significant costs which were not covered by commissions.

“Of an estimated $1 billion worth of bookings cancelled due to Covid-19, travel agents have recovered more than 40 per cent. However, $500 million worth of ticketed bookings for international travel are still to be returned.

“Kiwis have significant personal savings invested in international travel and risk losing these funds without changes to the Scheme.

“Travellers have been exposed to unforeseen travel restrictions which has cost them dearly. The recent suspension of the Australia travel bubble has created additional uncertainty for Kiwis, and added to the workload of our travel agents. 

“Kiwis risk losing out on $500 million of refunds unless the Government frees up the remaining $27 million of travel agent compensation fund which is currently unallocated. This funding should be used to make sure the outstanding refunds and credits end up back in New Zealanders’ pockets and travel agents are treated fairly.

“The Government must restructure the reimbursement process and commencement date of the scheme to recognise the significant ongoing burden on travel agents who are recovering funds for travel consumers.”

You can find a copy of Mr McClay’s letter to Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark here.