Government proposals over online package holiday protection issued

Government proposals over online package holiday protection issued

Enhanced government regulations designed to better protect an extra 10 million UK package holidays booked online have been unveiled.

The consultation on the EU Package Travel Regulations sets out the government’s proposals for the introduction of new consumer rights around package holidays.

The proposals include:
• An extension to current protections to cover the millions of UK holidaymakers who buy package holidays online.
• A requirement for better information to be provided to travellers at the point of booking, making it clear what their rights to refund are.
• Ensuring the business that puts the package together is responsible for the entire holiday – even if some elements will be fulfilled by third parties.

Changes to how consumers book travel – such as using online booking sites to build personalised holidays – has created a gap in consumer rights, with half of holiday arrangements not currently financially protected if a company ceases trading, according to Abta

The proposals will provide clearer and stronger protections for holidaymakers, ensuring people who book holidays online enjoy the same rights as those who book with a traditional travel agent, according to the government.

Travel agents, booking sites, trade associations and consumer groups are being encouraged to respond to the consultation, which runs for six weeks.

The European Package Travel Directive comes into force in July 2018.
Consumer Minister Margot James said: “While consumer laws protect millions of holidaymakers from the fallout if a travel company goes into administration, the way we book holidays has changed significantly in recent years and it is important that regulations are updated to reflect this.

”On average UK households put aside £100 every month for their holidays.

“The proposals outlined in this consultation will ensure that an extra 22% of holidays can be booked online with holidaymakers safe in the knowledge that they will get their hard-earned money back if something does go wrong.”

Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, responded by saying: “Holidaymakers should be able to book their trips without worrying about whether they will be protected if their travel agent, airline, or hotel goes bust.

“The government must make sure gaps in protection are addressed so that consumers have peace of mind however they book their package holiday.”

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