SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Dutch travellers who have been left stranded abroad by the outbreak of coronavirus can apply for financial support to get home.
Between 100,000 and 200,000 people are believed to be stuck overseas because their flights were cancelled, or borders were closed after they left the country.
The foreign affairs ministry, travel companies and the insurers’ association Verbond voor Verzekeraars have set up a website at bijzonderebijstandbuitenland.nl and set up a €10 million fund for tourists and business travellers who are unable to get home.
Dutch people who live abroad are not eligible. ‘We are going to fill up flights and bring people home,’ said foreign affairs minister Stef Blok. Travellers will have to pay a €300 contribution to be brought home from within Europe and €900 if they are returning from anywhere else in the world.
Insurers’ association spokesman Richard Weurding said: ‘We have to realise that this is going to be a mega operation in difficult times. That’s why we’re calling for Dutch people themselves to take responsibility for their own travel, accommodation, alternative itineraries and transport.’