EU acts to improve consumer rights for holiday makers

Source: Jakub Kledzik¸ PKF Malta¸ August 2013

Introduction to the topic:

The European Commission has finally unveiled its proposed reforms to the Package Travel Directive¸ saying it is ‘modernizing EU rules on package holidays’.

The proposals cover stricter controls on price¸ improved reservation cancellation rights; better information on liability¸ and a single contact point for clients if something goes wrong. For businesses¸ the European Union says the proposals will cut red tape and compliance costs by creating a level playing field between different operators. Since 1990¸ the EU directive on package travel has served ‘as the bedrock for the protection offered to EU holidaymakers’. According to these regulation new law guarantees protection to consumers (around 120 million a year) who decided to book pre-arranged package holidays.

‘Therefore¸ today’s update of the 1990 rules is essentially about bringing the Package Travel Directive into the digital age¸’ said the Commission statement. ‘Entrepreneurs will also benefit as the Commission is deleting obsolete information requirements such as the need to reprint brochures and making sure that national insolvency protection schemes are recognized across borders.’

Moreover Vice-President Viviane Reding¸ the EU’s Justice Commissioner¸ said: ‘In the 90s¸ most Europeans picked out a pre-arranged package deal from a brochure and booked it at their local travel agent. But nowadays times have changed and we need to update the rules to keep pace with changing market requirements. The EU is acting to provide a safety net and peace of mind for holiday makers if something goes wrong.’

There is still a long way to go in the reform process¸ and it is important to remember that for travel business it is unlikely to see any changes before year of 2016. The environment which is interested in changes indeed in this area truly appreciate a major reform of this nature¸ but despite of it there are a number of important points outlined in the proposals that have to be carefully reviewed¸ such as the concept of Assisted Travel Arrangements and definitions of a package holiday because it is one of the most complicated subjects to be covered and protected by one¸ international law.

‘The European Commission has considerable time recognized that the way how many travelers book their holidays is evolving already but 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 are now looking forward to the revision proceeding through its next stages and becoming law.’ Said recently Peter Long¸ chief executive of TUI Travel.


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