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Holidaytravelwatch Warns Holidaymakers On Rights In ‘Act Of God’ Complaints


HolidayTravelWatch has recently received a complaint from a holidaymaker about to depart on holiday to Oman. Approximately one week before departure, the country was hit by a Cyclone causing much devastation. Naturally, our holidaymaker was concerned that she would be sent to this country, and would not be able to enjoy the holiday contract she had made with her tour operator.

She contacted the tour company, only to be told that everything was in order, there had been some infrastructural problems, but these had now been resolved. They would not entertain a change in holiday.

This holidaymaker was not happy with her tour company’s response, so she carried out her own investigation through the Trip Advisor Forum. To her horror, she discovered the following comments:

“A friend who lives in Muscat sent me an e-mail yesterday. Their home was slightly damaged by the storm. Fortunatel they are OK , but many die in the storm, the worst in many years. The biggest problems are lack of drinking water in some areas and roads being left unpassable due to flooding. Road damage is extensive in the areas near to the wadis. Most offices, many businesses and government offices are closed until monday . he sent several photos of lower areas - flood damage was obvious . many cars and trucks pushed together. Buildings flooded. A good place for more information is numerous articles regarding problems with photos also. The airport , closed due to the storm has now reopened. I would not go to Muscat now. It is a wonderful place and will recover quickly - save it for a future trip. The Chedi , being in a flat area and near to the sea was probably damaged”.

“I live in Muscat. Dont come, there is no water and will take at least 10 days to be resupplied. We having a ’cat wash’ or lick and a promise. The gas line that pums the desalination plant was blown. There are fights at the supermarket for drinking water. The blue tankers that fill up with water in an emergency have been seen filling up at various “puddlles”. Roads have disappeared. There are no lorries to collect rubbish. There are no septic tank trucks to empty the septic tanks. My daughter’s school has closed indefinitely. Friends have lost all their possessions. A whole shopping centre was wiped out. Women and children are trying to leave because of the water situation. Come to Oman but now now in a few months time. The Chedi was washed away and will probably take 6 months to a year to rebuild”.

Naturally these posts created alarm in the holidaymaker, and she presented her evidence to the tour operator. They refused to accept these reports, and continued to represent that there were no problems in Oman. We advised her as to her rights under Regulation 12 and 13 of The Package Travel Regulations. Briefly, where there is a significant change to the term of the contract (in this case, probably not being able to deliver what was contracted for), the tour operator must advise the holidaymaker that they cannot deliver the contract. The holidaymaker then has the choice to either go ahead with the contract, or cancel without penalty. Regulation 13 provides options to the tour operator and the holidaymaker to try and continue the contract. The holidaymaker can accept a more superior holiday, a holiday of a lesser standard (with the price difference being refunded), or a return of their monies, and where appropriate, compensation.

HolidayTravelWatch is concerned that tour companies have still not learned the lessons of the past. The Organisation has noted the predictions of the National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for the 2007 hurricane season. They report that there is a 75% chance that the Atlantic Hurricane Season will be above normal in 2007. Further, they are predicting that there will be 13 – 17 named storms, 7 – 10 Hurricanes, and 3 – 5 Major Hurricanes this year!

Frank Brehany, MD for HolidayTravelWatch states,

“The experience of the holidaymaker intending to travel to Oman is not untypical. Many tour companies avoid the obvious, and send holidaymakers into disaster zones! They then wonder why they have claims made against them!”

He concludes, “Common sense, and the undeniable factor that storm prediction technology, and media coverage, make the holidaymaker of today very well informed. The sadness is that this level of knowledge appears to have passed some tour operators and their legal advisors by! It is unfortunate that we expect to receive a number of such complaints from holidaymakers affected by weather events. We say, don’t be fooled by the ‘Act of God’ defence, seek advices promptly, and above all, remember your rights under The Package Travel Regulations”.

All holidaymakers affected by any of these issues should call the National Helpline 01217478100 or make contact through the Organisation’s website –


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