Published on Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Theresa May confirms plans for new holiday protection laws

A Bill to give holidaymakers more protection if a travel company goes bust has been debated in the House of Commons.

The Government is promising that from next year, holidaymakers who book trips online will get new protection so they are not left stranded abroad or lose money.

This will essentially bring the ATOL scheme in line with the new Package Travel Directives coming into force on July 1 2018.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: "Technology has transformed the way people book holidays, and this Bill will mean the ATOL scheme can keep pace both now and in the future.

"Whether you book a well-earned getaway on the internet or the high Street should not make a difference to knowing you won't be stranded or left out-of-pocket if something goes wrong."

But the details of how the system will work have yet to be confirmed and implementation is expected to be complex.

The Government is proposing that holidays will be protected when consumers book a flight and are then directed by the airline to a separate company to book accommodation within 24 hours.

If it's outside of the 24-hour window the holiday won't be considered a package or linked travel arrangement and therefore protection won't be legally required.

The same applies to a customer who books separate components. 

"Much of the detail is not in this Bill, as it will be dealt with through Secondary legislation, which is why ABTA is urging the Government to move quickly," said an ABTA spokesman.

"The Government will consult on further changes to the ATOL scheme and Package Travel Regulations shortly. We expect the first consultation ahead of the summer, and Draft Regulations will follow, along with a further consultation in the autumn."

Giving the Bill its second reading in Parliament yesterday,  the Government quoted the ABTA Holiday Habits Report 2016 which found that more than 75% of UK consumers booked their holidays online.

Transport Minister John Hayes said: "This change will make the law fit for the modern age - and better able to adapt to any future advances in the technology that people use to book their getaway."

It was the first Bill to be debated in the Commons since the Queen's Speech.


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  • horses on the right courses

    a) There's a kind of holiday maker who, empowered by the internet, books the bits they want according to their own wishes. They know how to find a flight, a transfer/car-hire. They may even buy a package as a cost effective way to get a week's accom then turn up 2 days late, using their own transport. When something goes wrong: all they want is decent wifi and an hour later they're all sorted. b) There's a kind of holiday maker who "just wants to be looked after™ They buy a package so there's nothing to worry about. When something goes wrong: they sit back, wait to be told what the solution is (and an hour later, perhaps, start moaning that they're not being told what's going on) Now each of these is a perfectly good model for those that choose it. Case a) provides flexibility and is cost effective particularly for someone who falls outside the 'norm'. Case b) obviously provides simplicity and security. The issues occur when someone wanting b) starts trying to save money and wanders into the realms of a). Then, when something goes wrong, they expect to be looked after but don't get it and feel upset, worried, ripped-off. What we don't need is wet-nurse regulation, on behalf of the case b) people, cutting flexibility and adding unnecessary expense or red tape to the case a)'s. Surely the only regulation we really need is a compulsory notification, above the fold on any travel site, stating whether the 'products herein' are covered by ATOL or not, including a link to a simple, plain-language explanation of what that does/doesn't mean to you. Printed matter just needs the same warning with QR code(s) linking to the explanation.

    By ex Severn, Tuesday, July 4, 2017

  • Within 24 hours

    What happens if the customer books tjeir accommodation outside the 24 hour window. Does this mean they have no cover ? What if the customer books separate components on line and is not directed by the airline , are they covered ? If not ,then the tour operators still have a powerful argument as they offer full protection at no extra cost .

    By Michael Edwards, Tuesday, July 4, 2017

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