Online travel agents (OTAs) in Europe must now take full responsibility for each aspect of a holiday they sell in a single transaction thanks to a new law passed by the EU.
Reflecting the biggest shakeup of holiday protection in nearly three decades, the new EU Package Travel Directive, gives holidaymakers the consumer protection they would normally receive from traditional package vacations, the Independent reported.
According to the paper, under the new law, travellers now have a right to a full refund from the OTA when cancelling as a result of "unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances" at their destination.
Organisers of package travel must also ensure a holiday is as promised “irrespective of whether those services are to be performed by the organiser or by other travel service providers”.
Until now, most OTAs have been waiving their responsibility to travellers by insisting they are merely a booking agent – or middle man – between consumer and supplier. But the new law redefines the package holiday, to the benefit of customers.
“A new definition of ‘package’ will capture millions more arrangements which are sold, and thereby greatly increase consumer protection,” said Stephen Mason, a leading travel lawyer at Travlaw.