Cyprus hotels refuse refunds on bookings

Not a controversial plan, nor does it support tourism. As many have already pointed out, an act of crass stupidity and unlawful. Does government not have competent lawyers who can give sound advice?

What the Cyprus Mail headlines as ‘Controversial plan to support tourism’, legalisation to renege on refunds to those who have booked for hotels in Cyprus, would not only be a contravention of EU Directive, it would do irreparable harm to the tourism sector.

The House commerce committee will discuss on Wednesday ways of salvaging the tourism sector, including a controversial plan for businesses to issue vouchers instead of cash refunds to customers for cancelled bookings.

The issuance of such vouchers is to help shield the hard-hit tourism sector from the effects of the coronavirus epidemic that has brought global travel to a financially devastating halt.

Yet such a plan contravenes EU law, of which the European Commission is the guardian, which provides customers with the right to choose between a cash refund or accepting a voucher for a future package holiday.

Cyprus village mentality writ large.

Such legislation would have no legal legs to stand on as would contravene EU directive which holds precedence. It would be also be self defeating, self-harming and counterproductive.

Cyprus already has a reputation of short sighted hoteliers out for a fast buck cannot see past end of nose, of dustbin for the dregs of the tourist industry, this foolhardy measure would only serve to enhance that reputation.

This one measure, short changing tourists and ripping them off with worthless vouchers, would simply enhance the well deserved reputation of Cyprus as a bunch of sharks. The opposite should happen, those hotels failing to refund guests, name and shame, hit with a hefty fine, and close for the season.

Cyprus is dependent on tourists from UK. With every household hit by £450, staff furloughed or fired, people losing their businesses, refunds matter, being offered worthless vouchers an insult.

Yes pass legalisation but pass legalisation that helps not harms.

Two measures, which would not only help improve the image of Cyprus, would not only benefit hoteliers, would benefit the entire sector.

  • outlaw all-inclusive hotels
  • limit tour companies to 20% of occupancy

No one tour company more than 10% occupancy, tour companies pay at the end of each month not end of season, penalty if do not pay on time.

There can be no return to business as usual. There must be an end to mass tourism, destroying the planet, destroying Cyprus, brings the dregs of the tourist industry to Cyprus.

Time should be spent on reflection, how do we improve Cyprus, and it has a long way to go.

Develop Doughnut Economics Cyprus, adapt Doughnut Economics Amsterdam. How to achieve zero carbon 2035 whilst at the same time maintaining a healthy tourism sector in which all share its benefits, and of late, before covid-19 pandemic, tourism was not in a healthy state.

Tourism is more than hotels, it is car hire, watersports, restaurants, coffee shops, boat trips.

All-inclusive benefits foreign tour companies, little money flows into the local economy.

There is already a problem of airlines and tour companies refusing refunds, offering worthless vouchers. In UK, airlines and tour companies are under official investigation by Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) for not promptly supplying refunds as legally required.

Instead of refusing refunds be positive, offer flexible bookings, if cannot come now then come later and if need to change dates, we will do so at no extra cost.

By all means offer a voucher, but provide a choice, not no refund, and make it worthwhile, if accept a voucher, we will offer extra days, dinner if only booked bed and breakfast.

By refusing to pay refunds, it is using the hotel  sector’s  most desirable clients to bail out the hotel. These would be direct bookings, most likely regulars,  the very visitors Cyprus should be encouraging not discouraging.

If a hotel has low occupancy, offering free accommodation, two for the price of one, two weeks if booked one week.  The marginal cost is low as fixed costs are the same whether a hotel low occupancy or high occupancy.

Attract direct bookings. Offer amazing deals to regulars if book direct, not only this season (which at earliest will be end of season) but also for 2021.

Many years ago, my first visit to Cyprus, we were met at the door by the hotel manager, he had a problem not of his making, work had overrun, work for an internal pool not ready, the outside pool a lagoon pool was not going to be started or at least finished for the season and temporary pool was in place (better than most hotels).

He made an offer:

  • relocate to a 4-star hotel as good or better
  • free drinks during our stay
  • return next year for free

A few took the free drinks, we took free stay the following year. We went home with a good story to tell about the hotel, not a bad story.

But that is the difference between a good manager who cares about the reputation of a hotel, wants his guests to return, recommend to their friends, and and a bad manager who is only interested in short term profit, turning around a quick buck. The bad manager would have let people stay and ignored their complaints.

I have since spent a lot of time in Cyprus, but had my first trip been a bad experience, I would not have returned. I have met many visitors to Cyprus who say they will never return. When asked why, bad hotel. Other reasons given, noisy bars, unable to sleep at night, the drunk tourists both inside the hotel and out on the streets.

 

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