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New compensation rights for UK package holidaymakers

March 12, 2014 4:42 PM
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

Consumer rights for package holidays are likely to be brought up to date after they were given the go-ahead today by MEPs in the European Parliament.

Bill Newton Dunn in EU ParliamentLiberal Democrat MEP Bill Newton Dunn is calling for the existing EU rules, which date back to 1990, to be updated to improve compensation rights and ensure that people who book custom holiday packages online are protected.

The new rights would make it clear who is liable for each service being provided and would give customers the right to compensation if services provided are not up to standard or if a holiday is spoilt. Buyers of a package holiday will be given more flexibility to cancel their booking as long as they pay a small compensation fee, or for free in case of an unforeseen event such as a natural disaster or civil unrest.

In the case of an unforeseen event, such as a natural disaster, which makes it impossible to return home on time, organisers would have to arrange accommodation for stranded travellers for up to 5 nights.

There would also be a 8% cap on price increases, and any price reductions of more than 3% would have to be passed on to consumers.

Bill Newton Dunn, MEP for the East Midlands, commented:

"For over 20 years EU consumer rights have ensured that British travellers are well protected when they book package holidays in Europe. But the internet has led to a dramatic change in the way people book their holidays. More and more people are no longer going to their local travel agent but arranging package holidays online, so we need to change the rules to reflect this."

"These new rights will give holidaymakers peace of mind before they set off and ensure they are protected and entitled to compensation if things go wrong. At the moment those who make travel arrangements online can find themselves in a legal grey area, as it is often unclear who is liable if things go wrong and whether they are entitled to the same rights as those who book traditional package holidays."

"It is also good news that tour operators will now have to pass on savings to customers instead of just saddling them with extra costs."

Next steps: Today the European Parliament set out its position. Next the final rules have to be negotiated with EU governments in the Council of Ministers. They are expected to be agreed after the European elections on 22 May and to become law later in 2014.


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