Published on : Thursday, February 13, 2014
ABTA today gave a cautious response to an important milestone in the review of the European Package Travel Directive by the European Parliament.
ABTA supports the goal of modernising the Package Travel Directive and has called for it to be updated to ensure consumers are protected in a more consistent and transparent way and to provide a more even regulatory environment for travel businesses.
The findings of a review by the influential Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) Committee, (ahead of a full vote on the Directive in the Parliament in March) mark an important step in the ongoing process of review of the text of the Directive.
ABTA welcomes some key proposals from the IMCO Committee including:
Exclusion of general right of withdrawal (a ‘cooling-off’ period) from the scope of the Directive
Support for ensuring that in the UK travel agents do not take on the liabilities of organisers
Support for simplifying the exemption of some business travel sales from the Directive.
However, more work needs to done on other aspects of the current draft proposals to ensure they are fair and workable. In particular, ABTA is concerned that as currently set out in the wording of the text, some holiday sales by way of linked websites, notably by airlines, may not fall within the scope of the Directive. ABTA believes the inclusion of this type of arrangement is critical to ensuring an effective and consistent extension of consumer protection that is fair for travel businesses.
Chief Executive, Mark Tanzer said: “We are closely reviewing the details of this Committee’s review of the Directive and we are very pleased that it has made some sensible recommendations in a number of important areas that ABTA has been actively fighting for in Brussels. We have focused on explaining to MEPs that a consumer cooling off period would be unworkable for the industry and ultimately bad for consumers. A key focus of our work has been to argue that UK travel agents should be able to remain agents if they are selling someone else’s package and the proposal on the liability clause in the text supports this important principle. We are also making progress on ensuring managed business travel is excluded from the Directive, although as with much of the text, there is still work to be done.
“We believe that the Directive needs further revisions, particularly to capture linked sales from one website to another, if it is to be extended in a truly effective and consistent way for the benefit of consumers and the industry as a whole. ABTA will continue its work with Parliamentarians in Brussels to argue this point. The text has been greatly improved but there is still much work for MEPs and ABTA to do as we go into the next stage of review.”