Bulgaria’s consumer watchdog outlines rights regarding cancelling trips because of coronavirus

Bulgaria’s Consumer Protection Commission has posted on its website an explanation of the rights of consumers cancelling trips because of “compelling and extraordinary” circumstances such as the spread of coronavirus.

In the February 26 statement, the commission cited a 2015 European directive, reflected in Bulgarian law, that gives a consumer the right to terminate a tourist package contract before the trip starts, without paying any fee for the termination, in the event of “compelling and extraordinary circumstances” at the destination or near it.

This may include significant risks to human health that make it impossible to travel safely to the destination.

On cancelling the contract, the customer is entitled to a full refund of all payments made for the package, but is not entitled to additional compensation.

The commission quoted Bulgaria’s Tourism Act as defining such “compelling and extraordinary” circumstances as including circumstances beyond the control of the country and consequences that could not be avoided even if all reasonable steps had been taken.

It said that the right of consumers to full refunds did not apply to destinations where there are no compelling and extraordinary circumstances.

The commission said that customers wanting to cancel should contact their tour operator to inform them. Bulgaria’s Tourism Act obliged tour operators to “propose adequate actions which would be reasonable for both parties to meet the expectations of travellers and to resolve the situation further in the negotiation process,” the commission said.

If no agreement was reached, consumers had the right to take the dispute to court, it said.

Separately, Tourism Minister Nikolina Angelkova said that together with other institutions and businesses involved, her ministry was “taking all necessary steps to overcome the difficulties for tourists caused by the spread of the coronavirus”.

Angelkova said this after a February 25 meeting with tour operators and their organisations.

The tour operators said that about 10 000 Bulgarians had booked reservations for trips to Italy up to the end of June.

(Photo: Griszka Niewiadomski/sxc.hu)



The Sofia Globe staff

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