5th June 2023

Calls for change to holiday rules

Legislation designed to protect consumers booking holidays is not fit for purpose, according to Trading Standards experts.

By JTS Staff
Journal of Trading Standards' in-house team
There needs to be greater protection and clearer information given to consumers when they book holidays

CTSI has urged the Government to address “consumer confusion” around terms and conditions of holiday bookings.

Different levels of protection currently exist for UK consumers if they are booking separate types of holiday and travel services (such as flights, accommodation and car hire). The level of protection depends on how a booking is made and the length of time between separate transactions.

CTSI is calling for the law to be simplified as part of a forthcoming review of the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangement Regulations 2018 legislation to make them easier to understand and to ensure consumers are better protected from being misled or losing money.

In its latest policy report, Wish You Were Clear, CTSI found that:

  • The vast majority (88%) of consumers said that they support a review of the legislation governing holiday protection;
  • Around one in five consumers incorrectly believe that they are more protected when booking a Linked Travel Arrangement (LTA) than when booking a package.
  • Almost three quarters (73%) of people said that they only skim-read holiday terms and conditions or don’t read them at all.

CTSI public polling and feedback from travel/holiday experts showed that LTAs are not seen as fit for purpose. Consumers are confused about the protection they receive when booking a holiday; in most cases, consumers don’t even know what an LTA is, let alone the fact that it provides them with less protection than booking a package.

CTSI is calling for:

  • Simplification of the wording and information provided to consumers by travel organisers
  • Reform of the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangement Regulations 2018
  • Clear warnings to consumers when no financial protection is provided

CTSI Lead Officer for Holiday and Travel Law, Bruce Treloar, said: “Our public polling shows that almost three quarters of people (73%) couldn’t tell the difference between a package holiday and an LTA, even when they were given a definition. A stakeholder poll also confirmed that businesses don’t always realise when they create an LTA and that the vast majority think that the definition of LTAs is problematic.

“Our paper also highlights the need for only essential information to be given to consumers and for enforcement powers to be increased as part of the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill. There’s no doubt that package holidays and LTAs are a very complex issue but there needs to be greater protection and clearer information given to consumers when they book holidays.”

John Herriman, Chief Executive of CTSI said: “Our research shows that consumers do not appreciate that package holidays and LTAs have different levels of protection and that sometimes they may think they are booking a package holiday when they are actually booking an LTA. CTSI also believes that businesses are confused and that regulators don’t fully understand LTAs.

“It’s also worrying that almost 50% (47.8%) of consumers think that they are more protected or aren’t sure about the levels of protection when booking an LTA compared to a package holiday.

“It’s clear that things need to change. We are calling on the Government to either reform or scrap LTAs, so long as what is put in their place means that consumers are not detrimentally affected.”

LTAs were introduced as part of the revised 2018 Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations (PTRs) in a bid to provide consumers with more protection when booking holidays independently. Despite that intention, CTSI says it believes that this has not happened.

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