Trade association Abta has welcomed proposals to update the European Package Travel Directive which underpins the UK Atol scheme saying it protects the agency model.
In a statement released today after the European Commission unveiled its long-awaited plans to reform the law governing packages, Abta claimed its views had been listened to.
Abta added, however, that no actual changes are likely to be in place before 2016 and that there was still a long way to go in the reform process.
Now that the PTD proposals are know this will inform a separate process in initiated in the UK by the Department for Transport which had issued a call for evidence on Atol.
The issue of whether the PTD reform would protect agency status has been a controversial one and prompted a group of Abta agents to set up the Association of Travel Agents (ATA) to lobby on their behalf outside of the association.
The Abta statement said: “Abta has long called for the Package Travel Directive to be revised and updated as the current system of protection is inconsistent and confusing both for consumers and for travel businesses.
“We are pleased to see that in this proposal, the European Commission has listened to our views on a number of key points including protecting the rights of agents to act as agents (so that pure retailers should not pick up additional tour operator liabilities); making progress in bringing airline click-through arrangements into the scheme and ensuring that managed business travel is excluded from the Directive. These are all very important points for our members.
“We are also very encouraged that the Commission has chosen not to add some specific burdensome responsibilities to the Directive that had been considered, including cooling off periods for holiday bookings and a possible extension of tour operator liabilities beyond the liabilities of airlines.
“As you would expect with a major reform of this nature, there are a number of important points outlined in the proposals that we will need to carefully review, seek clarity and consult further with our members on, such as the concept of Assisted Travel Arrangements and definitions of a package holiday.
“We will do this over the summer and then go back to the policymakers in Brussels in time for when the Parliament and Council begin their scrutiny and editing of the Directive in September.”
Abta said it will update its members on progress through its Abta Today newsletter and on abta.com It will also run its own consultation during the summer and hold a series of workshops and run an online questionnaire.
Tui Travel chief executive Peter Long, welcoming reform of the directive said: “The European Commission has for some considerable time recognised that the way many travellers book their holidays is evolving yet the consumer rights around this haven’t changed in over 30 years.
“We believe that it is important that not only should customers have the same rights irrespective of how they book but that they should be clear and simple to avoid confusion.
“This has not been the case to date, something we have made very clear both to the Commission and source market governments. We now look forward to the revision proceeding through its next stages and becoming law.”
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