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Germany introduces voucher scheme to support live industry

The German government has unveiled plans to provide ticketholders with vouchers instead of refunds to help avoid businesses in the live events industry from collapsing under the financial strain due to Covid-19.

Live events and cultural institutions were forced to closed in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has left many businesses in the industry struggling to stay afloat as people seek refunds for cancelled events.

The federal government has now announced that customers who purchased tickets for concerts, sports events, readings and other admission-based events and organisations before March 8 will receive vouchers that can be used until the end of 2021.

If vouchers are not redeemed by December next year, the organiser or operator must reimburse its value. Refunds can also be requested now if a personal situation prevents the voucher being usable.

Germany’s federal cabinet, Die Bundesregierung, said in a statement: “Many operators currently have no new income. If they had to reimburse the entrance fees or user fees for all cancelled events at short notice, many of them would be threatened in their existence. A voucher solution could therefore be of great help.

“A wave of bankruptcy would also likely mean that claims for reimbursement could no longer be made.”

The voucher, which cannot be restricted to the rescheduled event or a specific date, must include the full admission price and all other fees including any advance booking fees.

CTS Eventim, a Berlin-based ticketing firm, has welcomed the government’s voucher solution, stating it is a “very important step towards preserving cultural diversity.”

Klaus-Peter Schulenberg, chief executive of CTS Eventim said the move offers “urgently needed provisions to mitigate the financial impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic for promoters.”

He continued: “The voucher solution is pure consumer protection at the same time, because it gives promoters the vital liquidity they need to continue operating as going concerns during and beyond the coronavirus crisis. Consumers are thus protected from what would otherwise be unavoidable losses due to insolvency.

“You can’t get more flexibility than that. We know that many fans want to retain the right to attend the event they booked, even if this won’t be possible until a later date due to the coronavirus crisis. That applies all the more, of course, to top acts that are greatly in demand, and to particularly sought-after events, such as festivals.”

Last week, Italy’s Assomusica trade group requested the introduction of vouchers to replace tickets purchased. The association praised the Italian government’s help in introducing vouchers to replace tickets purchased, but has urged the European Commission, MPs and the Culture Committee to expand this action across the EU.

Image: Die Bundesregierung