Over $300m returned to COVID-hit travellers

The Government’s Consumer Travel Reimbursement Scheme has helped return over $352 million of refunds and credits to New Zealanders who had overseas travel cancelled due to COVID-19, Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark says.

“Working with the travel sector, we are helping New Zealanders retrieve the money owed to them by overseas travel suppliers. The scheme has seen millions of dollars locked up offshore returned to everyday New Zealanders, who were at risk of never seeing a cent,” David Clark said.

“This means more money is coming back into the local economies as Kiwis now look to holiday domestically supporting the local tourism industry.

“The scheme is an excellent example of Government and industry working together for the benefit of New Zealanders. The expertise of the domestic travel sector continues to be crucial in helping get back money tied up in complex stranded bookings,” David Clark said.

The scheme was launched in October 2020 and pays New Zealand-based travel agents 7.5 per cent of the value of all cash refunds they are able to successfully recover for their customers and 5 per cent of the value of all credits successfully secured or rebooked for international travel.

For example, if an agent recoups $10,000 in a cash refund on cancelled travel, the customer gets that money back and the agent will receive $750. If it’s a credit for the $10,000 cancelled travel, the customer gets the credit and the agent receives $500.

The travel sector and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) estimated around $690 million of New Zealanders’ money was locked up because of travel cancelled due to COVID-19.

“By incentivising travel agencies to recover funds on behalf of their customers, the scheme continues to benefit both consumers and industry. I want to thank the travel industry for their work supporting customers during such uncertain times and encourage applications to be made right up until the scheme ends,” David Clark said.

Notes to editors

A full breakdown of scheme payment recipients can be found on MBIE’s website.

Applications to the COVID-19 Travel Reimbursement Scheme close on 30 June 2021.

Refunds and credits for cancelled travel is secured by travel businesses on behalf of their customers, who pass refunds and credits to their customers in full. The travel businesses can then claim a percentage of the refund or credit through the scheme. Consumers seeking refunds or credits should contact the travel agent or wholesaler they booked through.

MBIE is working with the Travel Agents’ Association of New Zealand (TAANZ) and First Travel, Flight Centre, Helloworld and House of Travel, who are able to apply behalf of their members, franchisees and affiliates. Independent travel businesses based within New Zealand can apply to participate in the scheme directly through MBIE.

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