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Government consultation on updating consumer protection in the travel sector

The Government has launched a consultation on plans for ‘Updating Consumer Protection in the Package Travel Sector’. The document sets out the Government’s proposals for updating regulations to align with the 2015 European Package Travel Directive. The consultation document and corresponding Impact Assessment have been published on the Government’s website, and are available through this link. The consultation closes on 25 September 2017.

The Government say that the Package Travel Regulations of 1992 have effectively protected consumers in the package travel market for many years, but the sector has changed significantly since they were introduced and technical innovation and in particular the growth of the internet and mobile technologies have opened up new ways of buying and selling holidays. This has provided increased choice and flexibility in the travel market, but it has also created a gap in protection as these new methods of packaging holidays are outside the scope of the current Regulations. The UK Government recognises that there is a need to introduce stronger consumer protection to address this  and this should apply irrespective of the UK’s exit from the European Union.

The consultation sets out the Government’s proposals for transposing the requirements of the new European Package Travel Directive which aims to provide clearer and more comprehensive protection for holidaymakers, in particular by updating the scope of protection to cover new business models and modern methods of buying ‘package holidays’ (often referred to as dynamic packaging).

The new Directive imposes several requirements on Government and the travel industry and they are summarised in the consultation document. In a number of areas the Government can choose how to implement the Directive and it has set out its position on these and invited comments. In particular they are seeking views on:

             Modes of insolvency protection for packages that do not include a flight. Would the options currently in place still be viable under the new regime?

             The new concept of Linked Travel Arrangements (LTAs).

             The creation of a UK central contact point that will respond to other EU Member States regarding UK established organisers’ insolvency regimes.

             Minimum harmonisation provisions. These are provisions that the UK has a choice on whether to implement.