Coronadvice 7 - For Tour Operators and Schools - What About School Package Tours?

Recent predictions suggest that the coronavirus restrictions will last for more than just a few weeks. Schools are closed, enrolments in the first classes will be without children, we expect the graduation (maturita) exams and entrance exams to be postponed. These measures are very dispruptive, but they do not, prima facie, cause any other unexpected expenses for the school. But what about the booked and prepaid school package tours? Who will bear those costs?

As we mentioned in Coronadvice 1, a tour operator should cancel a tour if it is prevented by an emergency and unforeseeable circumstance. But beware! The fact that schools are closed and we are prohibited from travelling does not automatically mean that the tour operator is unable to provide all the promised services. If a tour operator can provide the services, the situation becomes a complicated legal matter that can only be resolved by a fair agreement, failing which the dispute is likely to end up in court.

A relatively simple situation is with the package tours containing bus transport. Carriers are prohibited from cross-border bus transport, and thus the tour operator cannot send a bus across borders. In this case, the tour operator is prevented from providing a package tour by an emergency and unforeseeable circumstance, and should cancel the package tour and return the tour price to schools.

What about schools? When can they withdraw from the contract without paying a cancellation fee? In this case, the law explicitly states that two conditions must be fulfilled at the same time. Firstly, an emergency and some unforeseen circumstances are prevalent at the destination of the journey or stay, or in its close surrounding areas. Secondly, these circumstances significantly impact the performance and provision of the package tour and transport of persons to the final destination. Read more in Coronadvice 1.

In case the tour operator and school are unable to agree on the cancellation fees, there are other options for arriving at a mutually acceptable agreement. In Coronadvice 3, we wrote about the topic of postponing the date of the tour by mutual agreement. When considering whether to take a later date, there is no need to worry about the bankruptcy of the tour operator, as it is compulsorily insured against bankruptcy. Accordingly, in the event of bankruptcy of the tour operator, the customer is assured of receiving a refund of all the money paid to the operator. This insurance also covers travel vouchers. In addition, customers are also protected by the guarantee fund of the Ministry for Regional Development (we wrote about the amount of the contribution to the guarantee fund here).

What about the rights of the school and tour operators in a situation where the school package tour is scheduled take place in May, June, or the Autumn months? Read our Coronadvice 2.


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Livingstone, Tour Operator

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