Holiday cover 'clearer and stronger'

Beach Image copyright Getty Images

Protection for holidaymakers if operators go bust is to be strengthened and made clearer, following new rules approved by MEPs.

EU tourists booking a break will be told whether the deal constitutes a "package holiday".

Operators ensure that anyone on a package deal is flown home if an airline goes bust, or is given a refund or replacement if hotels go under.

UK travel organisation Abta argued that the rules should have gone further.

It said that the extra protection failed to cover all trips that "look and feel like a package holiday" to consumers.

Holiday nightmares

Image copyright Getty Images

The new rules were given approval by the European Parliament and must be adopted by member states in the next two years.

European officials decided to review rules made in 1990 owing to the changing way that holidaymakers buy holidays, with many more now booked online.

Protection for package holiday deals has been in place for some time, with an operator responsible for all aspects of the holiday, should things go wrong. For example, a refund or replacement of a hire car would be the responsibility of the tour operator if the provider went bust.

New Flight Plus arrangements were added in the UK a few years ago, giving greater protection to those who book a flight and then a hotel through the same website than to those who book everything independently.

Now the new EU rules ensure that it is clear to holidaymakers whether their deal is a full package holiday, and which consumer protections that includes.

A new "linked travel arrangement" system relates to those who book a flight online and are then invited to click through for other services such as a hotel, which they then book in the next 24 hours.

The new rules will make it clear which operator is liable at each stage of the holiday and customers will be guaranteed the right to compensation if services provided are not up to standard.

Business trips arranged by an organiser through a general agreement are excluded from new rules, as these agreements usually offer separate protection for travellers.

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