With the recent impact of Covid on travel in the last few years, a lot of things have needed to adjust. From travel restrictions to refunds, businesses creating safer packages, and a highlight on what was previously not working in the industry. In reaction to a lot of the demand for a changed, simpler, and more flexible travel system, there is now simplification expended in the new Package Travel Regulations Review.
In a Department for Business (BEIS) review of the Package Travel Regulations, there was a lot of discussion surrounding clarification surrounding the Foreign Office advice (the advice found on the Foreign Travel Advice page) and some “fairly straightforward simplifications”.
David Marshall of the BEIS Consumer and Competition team said that the department held a series of workshops throughout the summer for the Package Travel Regulations review to collect ideas on what needs clarification and adjustment for the travel world we now live in.
“The review was important given Covid-19 has been an enormous stress test for the regulations. We’ve seen an extraordinary effort by the sector to handle refunds. The difficulties of that were obvious,” he said.
“Generally, what we heard from businesses was that the PTRs gave clarity, but there were some unique aspects to Covid, in particular, around Foreign Office advice. We heard a lot about supply chain delays [on refunds] and the difficulties firms had in extracting money from suppliers.
“Second, there are a lot of different bits of financial protection which obscures things for consumers. Third, [the PTRs] can be hard to understand. Hopefully, there will be some fairly straightforward simplifications.
“Ministers are clear they are not prepared to relax the 14-day refund rule.”
There were a few specific areas that David Marshall highlighted for review and simplification in the coming months.
- Refund Credit Notes (RCNs) – he described RCNs as a “crucial tool” and said they were a big player in helping businesses manage cash flow. Though they have not yet been fully discussed, he said that they will take RCNs into consideration.
- Alignment with Other Changes – Marshall also said that these changes would be coming into action around the same time as the changes to Consumer Laws that are being discussed (you can find out more about the changes in consumer laws that affect travel in our article).
- Linked Travel Arrangements – this has perhaps been a long time coming. Consumers and travel businesses alike have noted in the past that linked travel arrangements are not easy to understand, nor is the definition simple and can confuse clients. There has been a possibility in the past of linked travel arrangements being removed in the Package Travel Regulations review, and Marshall stated that the sections of the PTRs on linked travel arrangements may be simplified.
- Package Definitions – the team are also due to discuss simplifying the definition of a package holiday so it is easier to understand. This would be of great benefit to consumers and could possibly help notice more if a holiday is or is not protected by the PTRs, which could have a huge impact on financial protection during Covid.
- Compliance Flexibility – currently there are a few select ways that businesses can comply with the PTRs, but Marshall said they intend to give more flexibility to businesses in terms of how they comply (if you’d like to find out more about Package Travel Regulations compliance, check out our article).
- Information Requirements for Businesses – simplifying the information requirements for businesses is also a possibility in the Package Travel Regulations review. This could help the business and the client, so both involved know what information is needed and when.
The next steps to follow after this Package Travel Regulations review will be to create proposals and work forward from there. They also intend to work closely with the EU on these changes to keep travel as smooth as possible around Europe under the Package Travel Directive.
These could be amazing changes for many businesses and create a more stress-free environment for travel going forward. Whether or not these directly affect your business, ensuring Package Travel Regulations compliance is important in running a great business without a worry in the UK.
At Protected Trust Services (PTS), ensuring our members are completely Package Travel Regulations compliant is just one of the many ways we support them so they can grow a fantastic business however they want, with peace of mind. Helping our members ensure PTR compliance means that their consumers can trust our 100% financial protection through trust and will keep coming back to a travel business they’re confident in.
Or if you’d like to find out a little more about how we protect travel businesses through our trust account solution, check out our pages.