UK government reveals plans to protect online holiday bookings

UK government reveals plans to protect online holiday bookings

Enhanced regulations designed to better protect an extra ten million UK package holidays booked online have been unveiled by the UK government.

The consultation on the package travel regulations 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 the Association of British Travel Agents, changes to how we book travel – such as using online booking sites to build personalised holidays – has created a gap in consumer rights, with 50 per cent 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.

Consumer minister 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 the consultation will ensure that an extra 22 per cent 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.

Government is encouraging travel agents, booking sites, trade associations and consumer groups to respond to the consultation, which runs for six weeks.

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In a statement ABTA said: “ABTA believes that when people buy a package holiday they should enjoy the same level of protection, whether they book that holiday in person, by phone or online. 

“We also believe there is a need for more clarity about what constitutes a package holiday to help people understand when they are, or are not, protected.

“The EU published its revised Package Travel Directive in 2015 and ABTA has consistently supported its core principles for extending consumer protection.

“While we welcome this consultation, we need to better understand how the UK government proposes translating these principles into UK law and have yet to see the draft wording for the new UK package travel regulations.

“Such clarity is essential for the public to fully understand what will or will not be protected.

“Travel businesses also need to be given enough time to respond to the draft regulations and make any necessary changes to their business.”