About the directive
The EU rules cover pre-arranged package holidays, but also self-customised packages, where the traveller chooses different elements from a single point of sale online or offline. Furthermore, these rules provide certain protection for linked travel arrangements, which is when for example the traveller books a flight on a website and is then invited to book a hotel on a different website.
The Commission issued guidance on 13 May 2020 on how to safely resume travel and reboot Europe's tourism, following the effects of COVID-19, including a recommendation on vouchers offered to passengers and travellers. The information is available in the section on Travel and Transport of the EU Coronavirus response page.
A first report on the provisions of the PTD was published on 21 June 2019. It was required by Article 26 (1) of the Directive and provides an early assessment of the provisions applying to online bookings made at different points of sale and the qualification of such bookings as packages, linked travel arrangements or stand-alone travel services.
A stakeholders’ expert group created in July 2018 to support the application of the PTD as well as a targeted consultation, where more than 200 replies were collected, form the basis of the report, as detailed in the Staff Working Document accompanying it.
Contents of the directive
- Clear information for travellers: Businesses must inform travellers whether they are offered a package or linked travel arrangement, and on their key rights through standardised information forms. They must provide clear information on the features and characteristics of the package, its price and any additional charges.
- Money-back and repatriation in case of bankruptcy: Organisers of packages must take out insolvency protection. This guarantee covers refunds and repatriation in case organisers go bankrupt. This guarantee applies also to linked travel arrangements.
- Clear rules on liability: The organiser of the package, is liable if something goes wrong, no matter who performs the travel services.
- Strong cancellation rights: With the new rules, travellers may cancel their package holiday for any reason by paying a reasonable fee. They may cancel their holiday, free of charge should their destination become dangerous for example because of war or natural disasters, or if the package price is raised over 8% of the original price.
- Accommodation if the return journey cannot be carried out: Where travellers cannot return from their package holidays, for instance in the case of natural disasters, travellers are granted accommodation for up to three nights if they cannot return from their holiday on time. Additional nights are covered in line with the relevant passenger rights regulations.
- Assistance to travellers: The package organiser must also provide assistance to travellers in difficulty, in particular, by providing information on health services and consular assistance.
The rules apply to combinations of at least two types of travel services (transport, accommodation, car rental or other services, for example guided tours) including:
- packages, such as ready-made holidays from a tour operator as well as now also customised selection of components by the traveller bought from a single online or offline point of sale;
- linked travel arrangements, for instance, when the traveller purchases travel services at one point of sale, but through separate booking processes, or, after having booked one travel service on one website, is invited to book another service on a different website, provided that the second booking is made within 24 hours.
The new rules are applicable in all EU countries from 1 July 2018.