Travel firms urged to take part in consumer protection talks

Margot James

Travel agents, booking sites, and trade associations have been urged to get involved with a consultation about a proposed range of travel-related consumer protection regulations.

Enhanced regulations will better protect an extra 10 million UK package holidays booked online, under proposals outlined this morning by Consumer Minister Margot James.

The consultation sets out the government’s proposals for the introduction of new consumer rights around package holidays.

Proposals outlined today include:

  • an extension to current protections to cover the millions of UK holidaymakers who buy package holidays online
  • a requirement for better information to be provided to travellers at the point of booking, making it clear what their rights to refund are
  • ensuring the business that puts the package together is responsible for the entire holiday – even if some elements will be fulfilled by third parties

According to ABTAchanges to how we book travel – such as using online booking sites to build personalised holidays – has created a gap in consumer rights, with 50% of holiday arrangements not currently financially protected if a company ceases trading. Changes will provide clearer and stronger protections for holidaymakers, ensuring people who book holidays online enjoy the same rights as those who book with a traditional travel agent.

Margot James said: “While consumer laws protect millions of holidaymakers from the fallout if a travel company goes into administration, the way we book holidays has changed significantly in recent years and it is important that regulations are updated to reflect this.

“On average UK households put aside £100 every month for their holidays. The proposals outlined in this consultation will ensure that an extra 22% of holidays can be booked online with holidaymakers safe in the knowledge that they will get their hard-earned money back if something does go wrong.”

The consultation runs for six weeks, and the European Package Travel Directive comes into force in July next year.