On 15th February 2022, the European Commission launched a formal consultation on potential revisions to the European Package Travel Directive (PTD).
The consultation forms part of the European Commission’s ongoing analysis into whether the current EU regulatory framework for package travel achieves robust and comprehensive consumer protection; particularly in light of challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic and recent travel company failures.
As part of the consultation, the European Commission is seeking views on a number of aspects of (and potential reforms to) the PTD, including whether:
- Online Travel Agents should be removed from the scope of the PTD;
- combinations of ‘accommodation’ and ‘tourist services’ should be exempt from the scope of the PTD (and so not considered as a Package, even where the value of the ‘tourist service’ exceeds 25% of the overall combination);
- the PTD should specify that official travel warnings (such as FCDO travel advisories) trigger a customer’s right to cancel a Package on the basis of ‘unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances’;
- the PTD should allow Package organisers to issue vouchers to customers, in place of cash refunds, if the customer agrees;
- customers should have rights, under the PTD, to receive refunds from travel suppliers;
- Package organisers, who already have the right to bring claims against travel suppliers under the existing PTD, should have a revised right to receive refunds from suppliers within a specific time-frame;
- a crisis fund should be established to ensure that Package organisers have the necessary liquidity to refund customers, in the event of mass cancellations due to ‘unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances’; and, if so, who should contribute to that fund;
- LTAs have resulted in greater protection for customers and whether the rules on LTAs should be refined or abandoned altogether;
- the PTD should be amended with the aim to reduce the environmental impacts of tourism.
The consultation forms part of a process that has been ongoing since August 2021 and which intends to propose legislative changes by the end of 2022; we could therefore see changes to the PTD in the not-too-distant future.
While any revisions to the PTD will not automatically result in changes to the Package Travel Regulations that apply here in the UK, it is nevertheless worth paying attention to any reform that takes place at a European level, as:
- UK companies that trade in the EEA and are caught by the PTD will need to comply with any changes that are made; and
- BEIS is in the process of carrying out a review into potential reform of the Package Travel Regulations in the UK and it is certainly possible that they could decide to take a similar approach to any changes implemented at a European level.
We will keep a close eye on the progress of any reforms, at both a European and UK level, and keep you updated of developments as they occur.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about how the above reforms may affect you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.