As of Sunday, July 1, travellers booking package holidays enjoy stronger consumer rights, the new European Union rules read.
Not only will traditional package holidays be covered, the new rules will also protect consumers who book other forms of combined travel, including self-customised packages, where the traveller chooses different elements from a single point of sale online or offline, a release posted on the European Commission website reads.
The new rules will also introduce protection for ‘linked travel arrangements’ when the traveller purchases travel services at one point of sale, but through separate booking processes, or, after having booked one travel service on one website, is invited to book another service on a different website.
The new rules will benefit consumers even more with:
- Clearer information for travellers: Businesses must inform travellers whether they are offered a package or linked travel arrangement, and on their key rights through standardised information forms. They must provide clear information on the features and characteristics of the package, its price and any additional charges.
- Money-back and repatriation in case of bankruptcy: Companies selling package holidays must take out insolvency protection. This guarantee covers refunds and repatriation in case organisers go bankrupt. This guarantee also applies to linked travel arrangements.
- Clearer rules on liability: The organiser of the package is liable if something goes wrong, no matter who performs the travel services.
- Stronger cancellation rights: With the new rules, travellers may cancel their package holiday for any reason by paying a reasonable fee. They may cancel their holiday, free of charge should their destination become dangerous for example because of war or natural disasters, or if the package price is raised over 8% of the original price.
- Accommodation if the return journey cannot be carried out: Where travellers cannot return from their package holidays, for instance in the case of natural disasters, travellers are granted accommodation for up to three nights if they cannot return from their holiday on time. Additional nights are covered in line with the relevant passenger rights regulations.
- Assistance to travellers: The package organiser must also provide assistance to travellers in difficulty, in particular, by providing information on health services and consular assistance.
The new rules will also benefit businesses, with:
- Clearer rules, making cross-border activities easier: Businesses will now have to deal with one set of rules on information requirements, liability and other obligations across the EU. National insolvency schemes are now also recognised across the EU. These measures will allow companies to operate across the EU as if they were at home.
- Modernised information requirements no longer based exclusively on travel brochures: the fact that traders will not have to reprint brochures is expected to save them €390 million per year.
- Reduced regulatory burden: Business travel arranged under a framework agreement, for instance with a specialised travel agency, will no longer be covered by the Directive.