Are there any temporary measures applicable to accommodation reservations and the relation between travel agents?

In the context of the pandemic of the disease COVID-19 and through Law Decree no. 17/2020 of 23 April 2020 exceptional and temporary measures have been established for the tourism sector applicable to (i) the cancellation of reservations made in hotels and resorts and local lodging, (ii) the relations between travel and tourism agencies, tourist entertainment operators and hotels, resorts and local lodging and (iii) the use of the tourism units for purposes other than accommodation.

 

What measures were created regarding the cancellation of reservations in tourist resorts and local accommodation establishments?

Reservation of accommodation services in tourist resorts and in local accommodation establishments located in Portugal, with or without complementary services, in the form of non-refund of the amounts paid and made directly by the guest in the resort or establishment or through online platforms, or through travel and tourism agencies, for the period between March 13th 2020 and September 30th 2020, are under an exceptional and temporary regime.

Thus, as long as they are not carried out or are cancelled due to a fact related to the declaration of a state of emergency (enacted in the country of origin or in Portugal), or even with the closure of borders attributable to the outbreak of the pandemic of the disease COVID-19, guests are granted the right to choose between (i) the issuance of a voucher with a value equal to the payment made and valid until December 31st 2021, or (ii) the rescheduling of the reservation for the accommodation service until the same date, by agreement and directly between the guest and the tourist resort or local accommodation establishment.

If the rescheduling is made for a date on which the applicable fare is below the value of the initial reservation, the difference must be used in other services of the tourist resort or local accommodation establishment, and will not be returned to the guest if he/she does not use it.

If the voucher is not used or the rescheduling of the accommodation service reservation is not made until December 31st 2021, due to lack of agreement between the tourist resort or the local accommodation establishment and the guest, the guest is entitled to a refund of the amount already paid up to canceling the reservation, to be made within 14 days.

People who are unemployed can request a refund of the entire amount spent up to September 30th 2020. This refund must be made by the tourist resort within 14 days.

 

What measures were created regarding the relations between travel and tourism agencies, tourist entertainment operators, tourist resorts and local accommodation establishments?

Reservation of accommodation services in tourist resorts and in local accommodation establishments located in Portugal, for the period between March 13th 2020 and September 30th 2020 and in the form of non-refund of the amounts paid, made by travel and tourism agencies or tourist entertainment operators (Portuguese or international operating in Portugal), are also subject to an exceptional and temporary regime.

Thus, as long as reservations are not carried out or are canceled due to a fact related to the declaration of a state of emergency (enacted in the country of origin or in Portugal), or even with the closure of borders attributable to the outbreak of the pandemic of the disease COVID-19, agencies and operators are granted the right to credit the unused amount.

The credit must be used to settle costs with any other service reservation with the same tourist resort or the same local accommodation establishment, on a date set by the agency or the operator, subject to availability of accommodation services, until the 31st December 2021.

 

What measures were approved to allow for the use of the units for purposes other than accommodation?

Hotels and resorts are authorized to explore all or part of their lodging units for uses other than accommodation, notably for long term leases (with or without the provision of services), office and coworking spaces, meetings, exhibitions and other cultural events, showrooms, teaching and training session, or for the activities of day-care centres or other groups or organizations.

The number of units destined to uses other than accommodation may be freely defined by the operating entities, provided that the following requirements are complied with: (i) compatibility between the new use and the tourism activity (whenever it is maintained), (ii) communication of the number of units and beds allocated to different uses to the Institute of Tourism of Portugal, I.P. (through the National Register of Hotels and Resorts) and (iii) compliance with the health rules set by the Health General Directorate, as well as other standards applicable to the activity to be developed.

 

 

 

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This information is being updated on a regular basis.

All information contained herein and all opinions expressed are of a general nature and are not intended to substitute recourse to expert legal advice for the resolution of real cases.