HolidayTravelWatch Raises Petition Calling for Increased Consumer Protection for Holidaymakers
HolidayTravelWatch has provided extensive comment since 2005, on the state of the Package Holiday, and the Consumer Protections that lie at the heart of many holidaymakers’ contracts.
The threat to the hard won rights of the Package Travel Regulations (PTR), introduced in 1992, has come primarily from the changing travel market, with more people choosing to book arrangements through call centres or online. The entry of new style companies via the internet has posed a direct threat to the marketing power of the larger and more established tour operators. Recognising that two markets would develop; one which is regulated and protected, and another which offers no protection at all, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) sought to overhaul the Air Tour Operators Licence (ATOL) which would have required those selling air holidays to carry such a licence to protect the travel consumer. The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) challenged the actions of the CAA in the Courts, with the final decision in the Court of Appeal declaring that the CAA’s actions were wrong, and therefore those selling air holidays, as identified under the new scheme, were not required to carry such cover.
During the various hearings, the court was asked to consider what constituted a ‘Package’. Despite the clear intentions of Regulation 2 of the Package Travel Regulations, the Court decided that such a definition would depend on how the holiday was sold. For example, if a holiday is held out to be a ‘package’ and the elements are combined to create an all inclusive price, then it could be held to be a ‘package’. On the other hand, if the components of the ‘package’ were held out to be separate elements, each attracting its own price, then it could be held that it is not a ‘package’. Each case will be decided on its own merits.
The effect of this decision has not created the certainty that was hoped for. On the contrary, this Organisation is now witnessing the beginning of the de-regulation of the Package Holiday Industry. Holidaymakers finding themselves in dispute are now discovering that tour operators are passing the buck to their suppliers. Those suppliers are in turn referring matters back to the tour operators. Some holidaymakers cannot even get a response to their complaints; some are faced with dealing with companies that either have no contact phone number or a poor customer service department. In the meantime, larger operators are now making clear that they intend to ‘adjust’ their operations to ensure that they are competing on a level playing field; the cost to the consumer is an unregulated and unprotected holiday purchase.
Given this parlous state of affairs, HolidayTravelWatch has launched a campaign to highlight the danger now facing holidaymakers in the 2007 holiday season. The campaign is two-fold.
Firstly the Organisation is calling upon the Government to take action to protect holidaymaker’s rights following the Court of Appeal decision. Secondly, if such action is not possible, then Government is urged to introduce a consumer logo system, making it clear to holidaymakers if they are purchasing an unprotected holiday product.
HolidayTravelWatch calls upon the Secretary of State to review this matter urgently.
Frank Brehany, the MD of HolidayTravelWatch states,
“If the events of 2006 have taught nothing else it is this. It would be a gross dereliction of duty to ignore the threats now posed to the many millions of package holidays bought each year by ordinary Britons. Imagine if the issues that we are faced with today were fully implemented during the 2006 holiday season, what extra misery would each holidaymaker be faced with in trying to resolve their contractual dispute following poor standards, illness, injury or even death? Government must wake up to its responsibility in this important area, otherwise the travel consumer will be faced with a rampant travel industry, with each company fighting with each other for that precious last penny, to the detriment of the ordinary holidaymaker. I ask, ‘what chance has the ordinary person got against such an industry’? Allowing market forces to dominate this important issue is not an option; now is the time for action, now is the time for increased protection”.
HolidayTravelWatch maintains that the strengthening of the Package Travel Regulations, to incorporate all Package Holidays, whether they are traditionally organised or are made up of components, is the best protection, not only for the Travel Consumer, but it is also the best protection for the future of the Travel Industry itself.
The petition can be accessed from the front page of the website of HolidayTravelWatch.
‘Support the Campaign – Sign the Petition’.
- Contact Information
- Frank Brehany
- Managing Director
- Contact via E-mail
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