In the framework of the declared emergency measures of the government, it is not possible to cross the state border unless one of the possible exceptions has been fulfilled. If a customer is forced to cancel their trip due to government action, are they entitled to a refund? Is the law on the side of the customer or on the side of the tourism service provider?
According to the Civil Code, the customer has the right to withdraw from the contract before the commencement of the tour if unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances have occurred in the destination or the immediate surroundings of the destination which have a significant impact on the provision of the tour or on the transport of persons to the destination or the place of stay. In such a case, the customer is entitled to a full refund of all payments made for the tour. [1] Therefore, if the tour is to take place in the coming days and the place of departure is the Czech Republic, the tour provider is obliged to refund the money in full. Since the provisions of the Civil Code are based on a directive of the European Union, the same right should be granted to the customer in other Member States as well. [2] However, a problem may arise if the customer has purchased the tour from a foreign provider with a departure point outside the Czech Republic. [3] If the departure point is outside the Czech Republic, the customer has been informed that he or she must reach the departure point at his or her own risk. If the country of departure has not taken drastic measures, such as border closures, and the destination of the tour is not a high-risk destination, force majeure cannot be invoked and only the foreign tour operator’s cancellation policy can be followed.

Let us outline the situation with a practical example. Mrs V. and her friend purchased a trip to Paris from the M. Travel Agency in the period from 9 April to 12 April 2020 with departure from Prague. As stated in the previous paragraph, such a tour cannot take place. Therefore, the M. Travel Agency contacted Mrs V. by email with the information that the April tour would not take place, but the M. Travel Agency believed that it would be possible at a later date. Mrs V. replied to the M. Travel Agency that she would prefer to receive a refund for the tour, as she did not know whether she could go at a later date.

The M. Travel Agency responded that the Association of Tour Operators and Travel Agents of the Czech Republic had contacted experts on how to deal with the situation. The agency in question has already issued a statement on the situation, advising the agencies to offer customers a new date. It goes without saying that the situation is not the best for travel agencies, given that their business model is based on the free movement of people across borders, which is not possible in the current situation. On the other hand, customers who were counting on a holiday may not be sure that a holiday at a later date will be possible and would therefore like to get their money back and buy a new holiday when possible. If the aforementioned section of the Civil Code is not sufficient as an argument for the travel agency, it is advisable, if the situation is to be solved only by “email”, to take a look at the terms and conditions of the travel agency.

The M. Travel Agency has stipulated in its terms and conditions that: “The customer has the right to withdraw from the contract and to a refund of the price paid or the advance payment for the tour without any cancellation or other fees in the event of cancellation of the tour by the tour operator or in the event of disagreement with a proposal to modify the contract submitted by the tour operator for objective reasons.” In this case, it is not a cancellation of the tour, since the tour will take place, but at a later date. We can thus work with the second option, which is a change to the contract. The change in dates will certainly constitute a contract change and will be material to the performance of the contract. This means that withdrawal from the contract according to the terms and conditions of the travel agency is possible without cancellation or other fees. If the travel agency does not want to return the money despite these arguments, it is possible to turn to the Czech Trade Inspection Authority and use the institute of out-of-court dispute resolution. The form can be found at

The situation may be different if you purchase flights and accommodation independently. For cancelled flights, the customer is entitled to a full refund of the ticket price or an alternative flight date.

The question of accommodation can be more complicated. If the accommodation was purchased through or Airbnb, the situation is a bit easier, as these portals have adopted clearly defined measures to deal with the situation. has classified COVID-19 as an event of force majeure. [4] In the event the customer is forced to cancel their accommodation due to a pandemic-related reason, they are entitled to a full refund. Airbnb is more user-friendly and has cancellation options available in Czech as well. Bookings for Airbnb stays and experiences made no later than 14 March 2020 with an arrival date between 14 March 2020 and 14 April 2020 are included in the extenuating circumstances policy and may be cancelled prior to arrival. Guests will receive a full refund of their booking fee. For bookings made after 14 March 2020 and for bookings made no later than 14 March 2020 with an arrival date after 14 April 2020, the host’s cancellation policy will apply as per usual. An exception is a situation where the guest or the host becomes infected with COVID-19. In that case, booking fees will also be refunded in full. [5]

In the case of a different method of purchase, the withdrawal is governed by the law of the country where the accommodation is located. The current situation in the Czech Republic may not be a sufficient reason for the establishment to refund the amount paid for accommodation. A number of accommodations have taken measures regarding the global pandemic, and their cancellation policies may be more favourable in light of current events. [6] The recommendation is to regularly check the accommodation’s website and its position on the situation.

[1] Act No. 89/2012 Coll., the Civil Code, Section 2535

[2] Press release of the Ministry of Regional Development of 4 March 2020 2020




[6] Cf. – option of cancellation of accommodation booking with a full refund until 31 December 2020.

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