After extensive consultations, the European Commission is taking action to improve protection for holidaymakers by modernising EU rules on package holidays. Until now, the 1990 EU Directive on package travel has served as the basis for guaranteed protection to consumers booking pre-arranged package holidays which involve combinations of, for example, flights, hotels and car rentals. The protection includes the right to receive all necessary information before signing the contract, making sure that a party is liable for the performance of all services in the package and the reassurance of repatriation in case a tour operator goes bust. However, in an age when consumers are increasingly booking separate aspects of holidays with different providers, often online, these rules are proving not fit for purpose. When a customer has purchased different parts of a trip from different traders, this frequently leaves the buyer uncertain if they can count on protection and also makes it harder for the traders to be sure about their obligations. This update of the 1990 rules is therefore designed to bring the Package Travel Directive into the digital age and it means that an additional 120 million consumers who buy these customised travel arrangements will be protected by the directive.

Around 23% of consumers book pre-arranged traditional package holidays, which are already covered by the 1990 EU Package Travel Directive. But another 23% buy customised holidays which are put together by one or more commercially linked traders to suit the needs and preferences of the customers. For example, consumers might book transport and a hotel from the same operator, or rent a car via the website where they booked their flight. Today’s rules either simply do not cover such arrangements, or do so only in an ambiguous manner, leaving consumers unsure of their rights and traders unsure about what they must do. As a result, in a recent survey, 67% of EU citizens mistakenly thought that they were protected when buying such travel arrangements when they were not.

These updates include

  • stricter controls on price surcharges and a requirement to pass on price reductions in equivalent circumstances
  • improved cancellation rights
  • better information on liability: in a plain and intelligible language, consumers will need to be informed that the organiser is responsible for the proper performance of all included services
  • better redress: consumers can claim compensation for any ‘immaterial damage’ suffered, in particular in case of a spoilt holiday
  • a single contact point if something goes wrong
  •  a right to get money back and be repatriated, if needed, in case the seller, the carrier or any other relevant service provider goes bankrupt during the trip.

 Competition!

Win a family ticket to Cadbury World!

This month’s competition is for a family ticket to Cadbury World. The Bournville-based attraction includes 14 exciting zones to explore, where visitors can learn all about the history of chocolate and Cadbury before seeing how the company manufactures some of its famous treats.

The first person to email caroline.gregory@grouptravelworld.com with the answer to the following question will win the tickets:

Who played the part of Charlie in the musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on the night our editor attended?

(Answer somewhere in the magazine)