July 21, 2021, 9:40 a.m.
Mainz / Düsseldorf (dpa / tmn) The flood disaster caused great suffering and immense damage – and many subsequent questions. One of them: Can I cancel my vacation in an affected region now?
Many holidaymakers have decided to go on holiday in their own country this year. But now parts of Germany have been hit by a flood disaster that has wreaked havoc.
Anyone who has booked accommodation in an affected region may now be wondering: Will I get my money back if I don’t want to travel?
Unlike beach holidays on the Mediterranean, holidays in Germany are usually booked individually, not as a package tour. In other words, in this case the advantages of package travel law do not apply.
The most important question is whether and to what extent an accommodation can be used at all and is available to travelers.
“As an individual traveler, you can claim a reduction in rent if the rental property is defective or a guaranteed property is not available,” explains Karolina Wojtal from the European Consumer Center (EVZ). That is an individual consideration.
In the event of a significant defect, an extraordinary termination is possible: “The defect must be so serious that the hotel or holiday apartment cannot be used or can only be used to a limited extent,” explains Wojtal – for example due to serious flood damage.
No right to free cancellation
When the accommodation is open and welcomes guests, the following applies: “The landlord of a holiday apartment or the hotelier owes me alone the provision of the accommodation,” explains Julia Gerhards from the Rhineland-Palatinate consumer center.
However, he is not responsible for ensuring that the accommodation is accessible and that the leisure activities in the region are open. “That is the risk that the individual traveler bears.”
Travel law expert Jan Philipp Stupnanek from the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer center says: “In the case of individually booked accommodations, there is only a right to free cancellation if it has been contractually agreed.” Otherwise, the provider is entitled to the agreed remuneration minus saved expenses. For accommodation in Germany, 60 to 90 percent of the agreed price would be due, depending on the food.
For individually booked accommodation abroad, the law of the country in which the hotel or holiday home is located applies.
Ask the provider for goodwill
“If the holiday accommodation is accessible and usable without danger to life or limb, one is dependent on the goodwill of the provider or favorable terms and conditions,” emphasizes Wojtal. In other words, either you have already booked with a short-term cancellation option. Or the provider of the accommodation agrees, for example, to postpone the vacation.
There is also no free cancellation right if excursion destinations in the region cannot be reached due to the flood damage. One exception: “The easy way to reach the destination was explicitly advertised,” says Wojtal. “Here you have to take a close look at each individual case.” Because it may also be that the hotel has only provided information about such destinations in the area.
What if the accommodation is difficult to reach?
“In the case of individual travel services, we are of the opinion that the risk of travel affects the consumer,” explains Wojtal. “Of course, it must also be reasonable to go there and stay there.” If there is danger to life on the way to the accommodation, the stay can be quite unreasonable. “In practice, however, only extreme cases are conceivable here.”
Boat trips are better insured
A river cruise is usually a package tour. If this is canceled due to the high tide, the organizer must repay the money paid in full within 14 days.
If the route is changed, for example because certain ports cannot be called, there may be a lack of travel. If the change is significant. “Here, depending on the individual case, I am entitled to a pro rata reimbursement of the daily price at which the booked service was not provided,” explains Wojtal.
However, there is no entitlement to compensation for lost vacation enjoyment. That would only be conceivable if the deficiency was not caused by “unavoidable, extraordinary circumstances”, as Wojtal explains. A flood is just such a circumstance.
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