The lengthy process of Introducing the revised EU Package Travel Directive reached a “milestone” stage yesterday.
The new directive (PTD) was passed by the European Parliament but it will take until 2018 to be implemented in the UK.
The PTD will bring most online sales of holidays within the definition of a package and create a new category of ‘linked travel arrangements’ to cover click-through sales between linked websites.
Abta head of public affairs, Stephen D’Alfonso, said: “The vote by the European Parliament in Strasbourg marks a milestone in the PTD revision process, which has been ongoing in Brussels since 2009.
“Abta has long argued for a more level playing field for travel companies, and enhanced consumer protections.
“The revised directive goes some way to achieving this aim, and we look forward to continuing to work with the EU institutions to monitor whether further changes for greater consistency will be required in the coming years.”
He added: “The UK government will now have two years to implement the directive, with a further six months allowed for compliance.
“Abta will work with the UK Government to represent the views of Abta members as the reforms are implemented, and support members as changes begin to impact their businesses.”
Package travel rules will cover two types of contract: package deals - pre-arranged by the tour organiser or customised by the traveller - and a new way of travel booking, called linked travel arrangements, where consumers are guided once they have booked a flight, to book additional travel services through a targeted online link.
The European Parliament said it ensured that click-through deals, where the traveller's name, payment details and e-mail address are transferred between traders and a second contract is concluded within 24 hours after the first service was booked, will be considered as a package deal.
Before holidaymakers enter into any contractual commitments, organisers and agents must make it clear that they are buying a package and inform them of their rights and who is responsible if something goes wrong.
The European Parliament added the obligation for the organiser to give travellers approximate departure and return times and an indication of the nature of any possible extra costs.
It also secured the right for travellers to cancel a package deal contract and get their money back if the price of the package rises by more than 8% - the European Commission had proposed 10% - or if "unavoidable" events such as natural disasters or terrorist attacks strike the place of destination.
German MEP, Birgit Collin-Langen, said: “Due to the changes in the travel market and the increasing trend towards online travel bookings there is an urgent need to modernise and adapt the old directive which dates back to 1990.
"With this revised legislation, the rights of travellers in Europe are strengthened overall.
“New booking models are now included within its scope and travellers are informed comprehensively of their rights. We have also managed to take into account the economic interests of the industry – operators, travel agencies or hotels.”
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