Abta head of public affairs Stephen D’Alfonso on the final process which will shape revised package travel rules
As much of the industry will be keenly aware, a revised Package Travel Directive is due to complete the reform process in May.
The European Commission has been in discussion with Abta and other industry stakeholders from across the EU since 2009 – and the process of producing a modern, flexible and future proofed directive has taken various twists and turns in that time.
This week, the process entered the most crucial, and final phase.
Following amendments by the Parliament and the Council, ‘trilogue’ negotiations have begun; trilogue is where the Council, Parliament and the Commission come together to iron out any disagreements in approach; once the finalised directive is adopted it will then have to be implemented in the UK.
The aim of EU regulators is to produce a directive that enhances and clarifies consumer protection, and helps to create a more level playing field for Europe’s travel industry.
Abta has been close to the process throughout, consulting our membership over the years and lobbying intensively in Brussels alongside our fellow European trade associations.
There have been some significant positive revisions that we have been part of securing, namely the exemption of business travel, and also ensuring that agents can continue to be agents and not take on the liabilities of organisers.
The process has been extensive, with many actors feeding into the process and a number of EU policymakers giving these complex reforms due consideration.
The current draft is a step forward in producing a more level playing field for travel business; but, there remains work to be done.
The EU institutions must remember that the aims of the Commission need to be fully met to ensure that the final directive has a lasting impact.
Abta will continue to engage the EU institutions and our colleagues across Europe on the key provisions that we believe are necessary to make the directive futureproof.
For example the definitions of packages and ATA’s need further clarity – and our view is that the most sensible course of action remains for click-through holiday sales to be captured in a definition of a package – this would be an important provision for consumers but also for the many UK businesses who already protect these kinds of sales under the UK’s Atol scheme.
The months ahead will give us a number of opportunities to continue to make the case for the UK’s travel industry. Abta will continue to work with members and stakeholders as we reach the conclusion of this reform process.
Once we have a final directive, Abta will also be organising plenty of opportunities for members to understand what implementation will look like ahead of 2017, and what this might mean for your business.
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