What to do if your holiday in Portugal has been affected by COVID-19

A guide on how to manage cancellations due to the impossibility of travelling because of confinement or due to lack of tourist services.

Photo by Leonie Krickhuhn on Unsplash
Photo by Leonie Krickhuhn on Unsplash
23 July 2020, Redaction

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a big effect on holiday plans for this year. With restrictions on air traffic and increased security and hygiene obligations throughout Portugal, in a bid to curb contagion at a time when there are several new outbreaks in Portugal and internationally, this undoubtedly will affect holidays in Portugal that have already been booked. With the help of DECO, Associação Portuguesa para a Defesa do Consumidor (the Portuguese Association for Consumer Protection), let's have a look at how to proceed in this situation in order to guarantee consumers' rights by looking at some frequently asked questions from travellers.

  • I have a hotel reservation in Portugal for the end of July. But in the country where I live, the state of emergency has been prolonged, so I'll not be able to travel and need to cancel the reservation. What are my rights in this situation?

Reservations in tourist resorts located in Portugal, made by the guest directly at the establishment or through electronic platforms, for the period between 13th March and 30th September 2020 that cannot be fulfilled or that are cancelled due to a situation related to the declaration of a state of emergency decreed in the country of origin, give consumers two options: a voucher can be issued or you can reschedule the reservation until 31st December, 2021.

If you cannot use the voucher or the rescheduling cannot made by that date, you are entitled to a refund of the amounts paid, as of 1st January 2022.

  • I have a reservation for a hotel to spend holidays with my family, but I have been informed that, given the health situation, they have closed the pool, playground and spa service. As these services are essential to enjoy my well-deserved holiday, I don't want to keep the reservation anymore and I want the money back. Is it possible to get a refund?

Given that the health authorities recommend that hotels implement measures to ensure social distancing, cleanliness and hygiene, it is understandable that they have been forced to close some services. It is therefore advisable to contact the hotel and find a balanced solution that safeguards your legitimate expectations within this new epidemic context, namely a reduction in price compared to what was originally set.

The following important advice remains for all tourist consumers this summer 2020:

  • Prepare your holidays and contact the hotel in advance to be informed of all the safety measures applicable, in particular with regard to cleaning, hygiene, use of communal spaces and catering services. Ask them to send you this information by email so that you have written evidence.
  • Before making any reservation in Portugal this summer, try to do your research and be aware of all the costs involved with the accommodation. You may have to bear additional costs for the delivery of meals to your room, as an alternative to the buffet service or restaurant, for example. In addition, don't forget to ask about the cost of the tourist tax.
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