The reform responds to a fundamental transformation of the travel market: Citizens are increasingly taking a more active role in tailoring their holidays to their specific requirements, notably by using the internet to combine travel arrangements rather than choosing from ready-made packages out of a brochure.
Today's rules are difficult to apply in the internet age where consumers are increasingly booking customised packages online (either from one trader or several commercially linked traders) – which leaves buyers uncertain if they can count on protection and traders unclear of their obligations. Therefore, today's update of the 1990 rules is essentially about bringing the Package Travel Directive into the digital age. It means that an additional 120 million consumers who buy these customised travel arrangements will also be protected by the directive.
The reform further bolsters protection for consumers by increasing transparency and strengthening protection in case something goes wrong. Businesses will also benefit as the Commission is scrapping outdated information requirements such as the need to reprint brochures and making sure that national insolvency protection schemes are recognised across borders.
“In the 1990s, most Europeans picked out a pre-arranged package deal from a brochure and booked it at their local travel agent,” said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner. “Since then, European legislation has helped millions of people enjoy stress-free holidays. But times have changed and we need to update the rules to keep pace with a changing market. EU package travel rules need to be fit for the digital age and meet consumers' expectations. Today we are boosting protection for millions of consumers booking customised travel arrangements. The EU is acting to provide a safety net and peace of mind for holiday makers if something goes wrong.”
"Tourism is an important source of growth for our economy, representing today some 1.8 million businesses and approximately 9.7 million jobs, while employing a significant proportion of our young people," said Vice-President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner, esponsible for Industry and Enterprises. "If tourists feel safe purchasing and using travel services in package format – for example when buying a flight and arranging car hire or accommodation all via the same provider - the industry will growth even further and faster. This is the main goal of today's proposal: to support all travel packages both on- and off-line while ensuring a balanced set of rights for travellers."
In addition to extending existing protection to customised packages, the reform brings new benefits for consumers and businesses.