The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has written to several group tour organisers to remind them that they are not exempt from rules about refunds.

The competition watchdog launched a Covid-19 taskforce in April to investigate complaints about “thousands” of cancellations and refunds across three sectors including holiday stays.

The probe was extended in May to include package holidays.

Now the CMA has written to “certain companies specialising in package holidays for groups to explain its view on when consumers should be offered a refund”.

As is usual practice, the CMA will not be naming the companies receiving these letters.

The letters follow complaints about companies whose primary business is selling package travel to groups, such as schools, sports teams, voluntary organisations and social groups.

The CMA said: “In several cases, businesses are claiming they are exempt from the Package Travel Regulations (PTRs) as the organisation that booked the trip is not a ‘consumer’.

“The CMA believes that this is generally incorrect.

“Regulation 2(1) sets out that the regulations cover ‘any individual who is seeking to conclude a contract, or is entitled to travel on the basis of a contract concluded’.

“Furthermore, Article 12 (4) of the Package Travel Directive envisaged that payments may be made by third parties on behalf of the ultimate ‘traveller’.

“The CMA takes the view that the PTRs are intended to protect consumers who have booked package holidays and should therefore be protected from losing money.”

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