Vouchers and Refunds - what you need to know

Since the pandemic began, TICO has received over 10,000 calls and emails conveying issues around travel that has been impacted by COVID-19. Here's the information you need to know!

The issue of travel vouchers as opposed to refunds has been top of mind for many consumers. Some have expressed continued frustration over the lack of airline and other travel refunds. Although this is a challenging issue to communicate, we encourage all TICO registrants to convey the following information to consumers. We also encourage both registrants and consumers to check the TICO website often as we are updating information regularly.

These are unprecedented times which have taken a significant toll on consumers with existing travel bookings, as well as creating exceptional challenges for the travel industry.

The Ontario government announced amendments to the Regulation under the Travel Industry Act, 2002 to not only reduce burden on Ontario’s registered travel agencies and tour operators, but also to enhance consumer protection for travelers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. For a period between March 31, 2020 and ending March 31, 2021, the amendments include a provision allowing travel agencies and tour operators to elect to only provide a voucher or similar document for future redemption towards travel services, for a period of at least one-year, impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional, up-to-date information for consumers can be found here.

TICO’s mandate and focus during this crisis continues to be consumer protection. We stand by our position that where refunds are not possible, credit vouchers for future travel equivalent to the value of travel services purchased, are an acceptable form of reimbursement. We believe this position is representative of a fair and reasonable regulator as we navigate through this difficult time. It is important to strike a balance between consumers being out-of-pocket for previously booked travel and the need to sustain the economic viability of the travel industry.

Please be advised that the recent amendments to the Regulation under the Travel Industry Act, 2002 referred to above also included provisions to allow claims against the Ontario Travel Compensation Fund in the event of bankruptcy or insolvency as follows:

Redeemed travel vouchers – Changes have been made to expand the coverage under the Travel Industry Compensation Fund for consumer claims involving vouchers or similar documents that may be eligible for reimbursement. This will help ensure that any voucher or similar document that a consumer redeems for travel services (e.g., flight, cruiseline or hotel) but for which travel services are not provided may be eligible for a reimbursement claim.

Unredeemed travel vouchers – A provision is also included which would allow for temporarily expanding coverage under the Travel Industry Compensation Fund so that consumers with unredeemed vouchers or similar documents issued by a registrant that cannot be redeemed due to the failure of a registrant associated with COVID-19, may be eligible for a claim for reimbursement.

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