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 the department has been working with the travel sector to retrieve money owed to New Zealanders 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," Clark says.
The scheme was launched in October 2020 and pays Aotearoa-based travel agents 7.5 percent of the value of all cash refunds they are able to successfully recover for their customers and 5 percent 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.
Amongst the payouts were $104,105 paid to Flight Centre for securing $336,744 in refunds for 3227 bookings. Another $14,035 was paid to Helloworld for securing $28,777 in refunds for 195 bookings.
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 the pandemic.
"By incentivising travel agencies to recover funds on behalf of their customers, the scheme continues to benefit both consumers and industry," Clark says.
Applications to the COVID-19 Travel Reimbursement Scheme close on June 30, 2021.