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Consumer Travel Reimbursement Scheme Opens To Travel Agencies And Wholesalers

From today, travel agents and wholesalers can make applications to the Consumer Travel Reimbursement Scheme established to support New Zealanders to get back money they are owed from cancelled overseas travel plans caused by COVID-19.

The travel sector and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) estimate around $690 million of New Zealanders’ money is locked up from cancelled travel plans due to COVID-19, with approximately 85% related to international travel. The scheme is designed to incentivise travel agents to recoup these funds for consumers.

The scheme is funded to a maximum of $47.2 million and will pay 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.

MBIE’s spokesperson James Hartley, General Manager Commerce, Consumers and Communications says, “The Consumer Travel Reimbursement Scheme has been put in place to play an important role in helping Kiwi customers get their money back, while at the same time providing the travel industry with the confidence and financial support to facilitate the recovery of funds held overseas.”

“Travel businesses are best placed to support the return of funds as a result of their knowledge and expertise within the industry. Bookings are often complex, involving a series of transactions with multiple overseas suppliers.”

He says securing refunds will enable New Zealanders to support the local economy through domestic tourism.

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

Refunds and credits for cancelled travel will be secured by travel businesses on behalf of their customers, who will 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.

Further information for travel agencies and wholesalers, including details of how to apply to the scheme can be found on MBIE’s website.

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