Cala Sant Vicenç in the northeast of Mallorca: »Don't let yourself be put under pressure«
Andrew Fox / Getty Images
Many people in Germany are currently receiving mail from tour operators asking them to redeem their travel vouchers by the end of 2021.
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These travel vouchers were launched in 2020 to help the pandemic-ravaged tourism industry.
Without them, the companies would have had to reimburse all customers for the costs of holidays canceled due to corona.
However, many have accepted the said travel vouchers if a trip booked before the corona pandemic had to be canceled.
You are now left behind if you do not want to redeem the voucher at the moment.
Or can you still have some money paid out after all?
I want my money back - is that possible?
For travel contracts that were concluded before March 8, 2020, clear legal rules apply: The vouchers that consumers received here as an exception instead of a financial reimbursement are state-protected against bankruptcy of the organizer.
And they will expire at the end of 2021.
Voucher holders don't have to worry: If the vouchers are not used, the organizer has to pay out the money within 14 days.
What do consumer advocates advise?
Tiana Schönbohm from the Lower Saxony consumer center advises vacationers concerned: "First of all, I should consider whether I really want to redeem the voucher now and not allow myself to be put under pressure."
If you don't want to book a vacation right now, it's best to have the money paid out, advises the expert.
The reason: If the voucher is extended by the organizer or a new one is issued, the state guarantee no longer applies.
On the other hand, if you get money back, you can always use it to book a vacation later.
What is the legal situation like?
Travel vouchers were very controversial for a long time in the Corona year 2020.
The federal government had initially considered making vouchers compulsory - like other EU countries.
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That would have relieved the travel industry, which feared immense reimbursements for canceled vacations.
But the EU Commission objected.
That is why the federal government decided to offer a guarantee - for vouchers for unusual package tours that had already been booked before March 8, 2020.
So these customers did not have to fear that they would be left with worthless vouchers if the organizer went bankrupt.
The deadline for redemption will expire at the end of 2021.
Vacationers should "vehemently demand the payment of the voucher," advises consumer advocate Schönbohm.
According to her, this sometimes seems to be necessary: "The experience of the past few months has shown that the tour operators were rather hesitant with refunds and sometimes tried to trick with the vouchers."
jus / dpa