The national consumer affairs ministry has announced an amendment to a decree from the end of March which allowed travel agencies to offer package holiday customers vouchers rather than refunds.
The Organisation of Consumers and Users (OCU) says that this measure was "not well received" by the European Commission as it contravened the package travel directive. The OCU hopes that the ministry's amendment will be retroactive and that consumers can benefit regardless of when they exercised their rights. The organisation adds that it is not opposed to there being vouchers, so long as these are voluntary and abide with the rights of travellers.
Two travel agency associations, CEAV and ACAVE, are critical of the amendment. Agencies will be left "unprotected" in the event of airline defaults. The CEAV Spanish Confederation of Travel Agencies has contacted the ministry and expressed its disagreement. The vouchers had partially alleviated the pressures experienced by travel agencies during the crisis. The confederation has asked the Spanish government to approve ICO (Instituto de Crédito Oficial) credit lines to cover the financial difficulties that this amendment will entail for travel agencies and to provide 100% state guarantee.
The ACAVE association of specialised travel agencies has demanded an "urgent solution" from the government. The regulatory change will cause "unquantifiable harm" to agencies, as they will have to assume reimbursements that the providers themselves are refusing to make "in breach of current regulations". The association has so far filed forty complaints with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency because of airline non-compliance with EU regulations.