Fostering Consumer Rights and the Viability of Well-Protected Travel Products

Today, eu travel tech and the European Tourism Association (ETOA) sent an open letter to European Commissioners Didier Reynders and Adina Vălean, expressing concerns and recommendations regarding the impending review of the Package Travel Directive (PTD) and the new passenger rights framework.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has exposed critical flaws in our existing travel regulations, resulting in considerable hardships for consumers and businesses alike. As we approach the adoption of new legislative proposals, it is crucial that we address these issues comprehensively to ensure a more resilient and consumer-friendly future for travel.

Here are the key points highlighted in our letter:

  • Closing the Liability Gap: We emphasize the need to align refund obligations for package travel organizers and airlines. Currently, there exists a significant disparity between the PTD and Regulation 261 on Air Passenger Rights, which places an undue burden on organizers during crises like the pandemic. Closing this gap is essential for fair and effective consumer protection.
  • Ringfencing Consumer Funds: To protect consumer pre-payments, we advocate for measures that focus on the most vulnerable segment of the supply chain—flights. By ringfencing payments related to the flight component of travel packages in escrow, we can secure customer funds while providing financing options for airlines.
  • Clarifying Negative Travel Advice: The interpretation of “unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances” in the PTD remains ambiguous, particularly concerning negative government travel advice. We call for legislation that defines the circumstances under which negative travel advice triggers refund rights, enhancing consistency, transparency, and confidence for travelers and the industry.

The European travel and tourism industry is at a critical juncture, demanding swift and decisive action. Addressing these crucial points in the revised PTD and the new passenger rights framework will be pivotal in restoring consumer trust and promoting industry resilience.