On the Beach has called for £781 million held in refund credit notes to be returned to consumers.
A report exploring the impact of cancelled holidays caused by Covid-19 on holidaymakers reveals the cash is held by travel companies from across the industry.
As YouGov data on the volume and value of the notes currently in circulation comes to light, the paper shows that nearly half of the consumers surveyed who accepted credit were not offered a full cash refund when their holiday was cancelled - as is their legal right.
On the Beach, who commissioned the report, has set out five recommendations to help restore consumer trust in the industry, including a call for holiday companies to proactively contact their customers still holding credit notes from 2020 to offer them a full cash refund.
The beach holiday expert also encourages consumers currently holding a credit notes who do not want one, to contact their holiday provider now and ask for a full cash refund.
It is estimated that 8.1 million people had a package holiday cancelled due to Covid-19, with only half receiving a full cash refund and 851,000 (nearly 11 per cent) accepting a credit note rather than cash.
The research outlines that over a million people with a note or rebooking were not offered a cash refund at the point of cancellation, despite this being a legal requirement.
What’s more, 52 per cent of consumers surveyed were unaware of their legal right to cash.
Millennials were the most affected - fewer people in this age group were offered a cash refund or aware of their right to one than anyone else.
Anna Richardson, journalist, broadcaster and consumer expert who has written a foreword for the white paper, said: “It’s sad to think that a family who has saved for months or even years for their one summer holiday abroad has had to fight to get their money back, and in many cases have not been provided with full and transparent information of what they are entitled to when their holiday was cancelled.
“Looking forward to your holiday is a massive part of the whole experience, but while there is still so much uncertainty and disruption, people are understandably lacking the confidence to plan and book again because they’re unsure of their rights if it gets cancelled.
“The smoke and mirrors being used by some holiday companies is wrong.
“I urge people who had their holiday cancelled to use their right to a full cash refund and contact their travel provider today to ask for their cash.”