The requirement for consumer protection for non-flight holidays was due to EU legislation. Despite having now left the EU, the 2018 Travel Regulations remain in force (though under review) and are the UK implementation of the 2015 European Directive.
The Package Travel Directive (2015/2302/EU) amended and updated Council Directive 90/314/EEC and protects a range of European travellers’ rights when booking package holidays, including performance of the package, its cancellation, the organiser’s liability to their customers, as well as repatriation and refunds in the case of the organiser’s insolvency. It applies to both European and foreign traders selling travel packages to European travellers, be it directly or via a retailer.
The consumer protections under the 2015 Directive were strengthened and expanded in response to the way the sales of package holidays had themselves developed and changed over the preceding 25 years. The growth of ‘DIY’ package holidays and online organisers taking the market share from the traditional high street chains saw a large percentage of package holiday sales falling outside of the original definitions and attached obligations.
Before Brexit there was mutual recognition of different Travel Regulation schemes – ABTOT protection was equally applicable and protective of UK and EU travellers. Post Brexit this mutual recognition no longer applies, therefore a UK travel organiser has to have an EU approved form of insolvency protection if targeting or selling its package holidays to EU travellers.
A question ABTOT is often asked is what is the difference between the Package Travel Regulations and the Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (ATOL) regulations?
The Package Travel Regulations are the overarching regulations that provide consumer protection for customers purchasing package holidays – and these come from the 2015 Directive.
One part of the Package Travel Regulations is the requirement that travel organisers obtain adequate insolvency protection so that customers are refunded or repatriated if the travel organiser becomes insolvent. The ATOL scheme, administered by the CAA, is the mechanism which provides this insolvency protection for packages that include a flight. Travel Organisers of non-flight packages have to obtain financial protection under the arrangements specified in the 2018 Travel Regulations, one of which is the ABTOT Bonding scheme.
How we can help Travel businesses
ABTOT’s sister company Arcus Solutions based in France provides travel bonds and surety products across the EU to Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, The Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and Norway. UK based Travel Organisers can contact them to discuss how they can trade in these European countries. Travel – Arcus Solutions (arcus-solutions.fr)
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