Travel sites to pay compensation for holiday disasters under new laws
Travel websites will be forced to pay compensation and refunds when holidays booked through them go wrong under a planned new law.
The government wants to close the legal loophole that allows websites to blame airlines and hotels, rather than take responsibility to errors and mishaps themselves.
The law will mean people who book with online companies will be offered the same protection they get when they use travel agents.
The government has said the regulations will mean that travel websites will be "responsible for the entire holiday" booked through them, even if different companies supply the flights and hotels.
It means people will be protected if one of the companies goes bust or if the holiday turns out to be substantially different to the one advertised.
Margot James, the consumer minister, said: "While consumer laws protect millions of holidaymakers from the fallout if a travel company goes into administration, the way we book holidays has changed significantly in recent years and it is important that regulations are updated to reflect this.
“On average UK households put aside £100 every month for their holidays. The proposals outlined in this consultation will ensure that an extra 22 per cent of holidays can be booked online with holidaymakers safe in the knowledge that they will get their hard-earned money back if something does go wrong.”
The new rules are now subject to a six-week consultation period.
Last year over 40% of people travelling abroad booked their trips through online sites, like booking.com and Expedia.
The government’s consultation paper says: "Technical innovation and in particular the growth of the internet and mobile technologies, have opened up new ways of buying and selling holidays. This has provided increased choice and flexibility in the travel market, allowing consumers to mix and match components of a holiday to suit their particular needs.
"However it has also created a gap in protection as these new methods of packaging holidays are outside the scope of the current Regulations."
The best way to protect yourself from holiday disaster, is to find the right travel insurance deal online.
What do we think?
A Spokesman Said’s consumer expert Fred Isaac said, “This is a welcome move and a change in the regulations is long overdue.
“People increasingly use these sites and, in our experience, there is often confusion about who is responsible when things go wrong.
“It’s high time people were able to book with complete peace of mind, knowing there is a clear path of complaint if things go wrong.”
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