New package regulations and the tight deadline dominate association’s event in London. Ian Taylor reports

Government to issue PTR guidance in next few days

The government is finally poised to issue guidance on compliance with new Package Travel Regulations (PTRs) due to come into force from July 1.

Robert Scott, head of European consumer policy at the Department for Business (BEIS), said the guidance should be available this week or next.

He told last week’s Abta Travel Law Seminar: “The regulations should be passed into law next week. We have developed guidance and should be able to get it out alongside. We are very conscious we need to get this out quickly.”

The regulations should have been passed last year and BEIS guidance should have been made available well in advance of now.

Abta director of legal services Simon Bunce (pictured) said: “The timeframe we have left for this is woefully short.” The regulations will make all travel bookings comprising two or more services – such as a flight and accommodation or car hire – a ‘package holiday’ by law, meaning many travel agents will take on the liabilities of a tour operator for the first time.

Scott told the seminar: “The new regulations are a lot more specific [about the insolvency requirements for packages].”

Where the existing regulations state only that package providers must “provide sufficient evidence of security for the refund of money paid and for repatriation”, the new PTRs require insolvency protection: “Cover any payments made [and]…the estimated cost for repatriations in the event of insolvency and to pay for any necessary accommodation prior to repatriation.”

Traders need to ensure the protection is available as soon as “travel services are not being performed fully, it becomes evident they will not be performed fully or the travellers have to pay for the services themselves”.

They must “refund travellers without undue delay” and “benefit travellers regardless of their place of residence, place of departure or where the package is sold”.

Scott said: “We expect the new regulations to raise standards across the UK and the directive to raise standards across the EU.”

Abta to canvas agents on impact of new regime

Abta will contact all members to assess the impact of the new financial protection regime on businesses in anticipation of the new Package Travel Regulations and amended Atol Regulations being issued.

John de Vial, director of financial protection and financial services, told the seminar: “We will write to all members. The time has come to draw a line under this, to give people at least a month to look at what they are doing and engage with us.”

Members will receive an online document, and De Vial said: “We’ll ask you to estimate what [protected] business you do and if you have revenue moving from Flight-Plus [Atol protection] to package [protection].

“I would ask everyone to respond as quickly as possible. If you’re not changing anything, just say that.”

De Vial said: “These will be best-guess forecasts. We may need to revise forecasts as we get into trading in this new environment. Once we have a year under our belts, we will all be more comfortable.”