Update: EU Council backs the new Package Travel Directive (28 May 2015)
The Directive on Package Travel is an important cornerstone in the protection of European consumers going on holidays.
The Directive covers pre-arranged holiday packages which combine at least two of the following:
- other tourist services not ancillary to transport or accommodation and accounting for a significant proportion of the package.
Consumers are protected where:
- at least two of the above elements are sold at an inclusive price;
- the service covers a period longer than 24 hours or includes an overnight stay.
The development of the internet has revolutionised the way in which consumers organise their holidays. An increasing number of EU citizens now arrange their holidays themselves with the assistance of different online or offline operators instead of buying pre-arranged travel packages.
As a result of these developments, the number of consumers who are protected under the Package Travel Directive when going on holiday has been falling steadily.
The new market trends, such as websites allowing holidaymakers to put together their own customised travel arrangements, have created legal grey areas and uncertainty for both businesses and consumers. Thus, the Package Travel Directive is being overhauled so that it better reflects today's travel market.
The new Directive clearly increases transparency in this market and provide significant protection for consumers against unwanted timeshare contracts – agreements of more than one year under which the consumer buys a right to use overnight accommodation, such as an apartment at a holiday resort, during certain periods.