This week the European Commission began to reveal potential plans discussed in a Package Travel Directive Consultation. After almost 2 years of chaotic changes in the travel industry around the world during Covid, the state of travel has settled, and the world is beginning to adapt.
Though the UK officially left the EU in January 2021, these changes in the Package Travel Directive consultation could still influence future changes to the Package Travel Regulations (you can find out more about the consultation over the UK Package Travel Regulations in our article).
The UK government, in discussing changes to the Package Travel Regulations, also claimed they would keep up with any updates to the EU travel regulations, including the possibility to ‘pinch ideas’ surrounding the Package Travel Directive consultation.
This comes in support of UK based travel companies that currently trade within the EU. Any companies trading within the EU will be required to follow the Package Travel Directive in doing so. Previously, as a member of the EU, the UK would have been required to implement all changes the EU made to the Package Travel Directive, but this is no longer compulsory.
These changes could be put into place this year, according to reports. The fact that this is occurring at the same time as the consultations on the UK Package Travel Regulations could mean some of these changes will be reflected for UK travel businesses. For this reason, we recommend keeping up to date to ensure continuous Package Travel Regulations compliance (if you’d like to find out more about how we ensure Package Travel Regulations compliance, check out our page).
What Changes has the Package Travel Directive Consultation Brought Up?
Many potential changes to the Package Travel Directive have already been proposed and presented for comment. The input of the travel industry has been invited on several fronts in order to make these regulations as beneficial and accessible as possible.
The Definition of a Package
One of the first ideas that the European Commission invited input on in the Package Travel Directive consultation is the basic definition of a package. There are several possible revisions that are being considered for the package holiday definition. Currently, this definition is the same in the Package Travel Directive and the Package Travel Regulations.
One of the proposed changes included whether travel services/elements combined into a package by high street or online travel agents should be considered a package at all.
However, this has been considered unlikely to change and is not a change that many in the travel industry have vehemently approved.
Cancellations Due to Covid
In the past couple of years, a lot of changes have been made to adapt to Covid in travel. Many travel businesses have changed their policies to accommodate for the unpredictable changes that could occur due to Covid. This is now being taken into consideration for the Package Travel Directive as a legally binding policy for all travel businesses trading in the EU.
At present difficulties are occurring for both consumers and travel businesses surrounding Covid cancellations. Consumers are unable to get a refund and travel businesses are unable to give a refund because they have not been refunded by the service provider, such as an airline.
The consultation proposed two options to solve this, either:
- “Package travellers obtain a direct right to a refund against service providers”; or
- “Organisers have the right to a refund against service providers such as airlines or hotels, within a specific deadline to enable them to reimburse travellers.”
There was also a discussion surrounding the situation of vouchers. Current regulations state that a refund must be given within 14 days of the consumer requesting it if they are entitled under the Package Travel Directive. It was suggested that more time to acquire the refund could come in the form of a voucher if the consumer agrees.
“Should the PTD specify that organisers may issue vouchers instead of a refund within 14 days?” the consultation asks. The vouchers would then be protected and provide the time to get the refund while ensuring the consumer will get their money back.
The consultation also proceeded to ask, “Should the PTD regulate the consequences of ‘official travel warnings’, e.g. their legal value in connection with cancellations?”
Restrictions on prepayments were also put up for consideration. These touched on issues such as prepayments being prohibited in their entirety, being “limited to [up to] 20% at the time of booking” with the remainder “paid shortly before departure”, or being limited to 50%, with this amount paid one-month pre-departure at the earliest.
The consultation also took note of issues such as the Thomas Cook crisis and the changes of the pandemic that have revealed some forms of insolvency protection and insurance that were not previously covered pre-covid.
This consultation is intended to run until the 10th of May. Many travel industry experts in the UK have shown an interest in this consultation, with the EU taking a big step for travel that could still be relevant to UK travel, despite Brexit.
Protection in travel has been brought into question many times over the past 2 years, and it is fantastic to see some of the gaps we’ve been made aware of getting attention. The extra protection and understanding that could be established for consumers and travel businesses alike in travel is a big point of discussion.
So, if you’d like to discuss protection for UK travel businesses further and find out how we at Protected Trust Services (PTS) support and protect our members’ monies, get in touch with PTS at 0207 190 9988 or email our lovely team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or, if you’d like to learn more about travel trust account protection with PTS and how we support PTS members, check out our pages.