It would appear that when booking travel package deals online holidaymakers are not granted the same degree of protection that they would be entitled to by booking through a travel agent. Since this gap in consumer protection came to light, Ministers have agreed to act to address this anomaly and the Government has announced a new plan compelling online travel websites to compensate holidaymakers for holiday disasters.
In recent years holidaymakers, driven by rising costs are turning to online travel sites such as Booking.com and Expedia.com in an attempt to limit their holiday costs and obtain competitive prices. However, they may be largely unaware that they do not have the same level of protection against a ruined holiday that would be granted by the more conventional travel agents. Margot James, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility, was quick to point out that under current consumer laws there is protection for holidaymakers should a travel company go into administration. She acknowledged that the way holidaymakers book their holidays now is different from in the past and it is necessary for the regulations to reflect these changes and protect consumers.
The growth of mobile technologies and other technical innovations in the leisure industry provides a vastly increased choice in the travel market, providing the flexibility to enable holidaymakers to mix and match various parts of their holiday experience to suit their particular requirements. The consumer group Which? has previously called on the Government to act to provide “peace of mind” to the holidaymakers of the Nation. The Association of Travel Agents has welcomed the new regulations commenting that they will provide “clearer and stronger protections for holidaymakers”
If the new regulations go ahead the online travel companies will be responsible for the entire holiday including the parts that are supplied by other companies such as airlines and hotels. These robust measures are an attempt to protect holidaymakers from holiday packages that do not live up to the advertised standards.
Many families and individuals suffer a significant financial impact when their holiday goes wrong and frequently receive less than impressive support from their travel company when they appeal for assistance. Once the new regulations are in place they will bring parity to the travel industry and clarity and peace of mind to the holidaymakers however they choose to book their holiday.
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