Going on holiday is meant to reduce stress, not add to it. But misfortune can strike at any time, such as the travel operator going bust or a natural disaster.
Package holidays have their own set of problems as EU rules have not been updated since 1990, long before the arrival of cheap flights and the internet transformed the holiday market.
Happily, this is set to change after the European Parliament struck a deal with the Council to ensure people enjoy more rights when opting for a package holiday. Under the deal, travellers putting together their own package holiday online will get the same protection as those buying from traditional travel agents.
The definition of package holiday will be widened to include other parts of the trip such as flights, hotel accommodation and car hire so that if something goes wrong with them, people are still protected.
Travellers will also be able to cancel a package deal if the price increases by more than 5%. Package organisers will be obliged to get insolvency protection so that if they go bust, their customers will be fully refunded and repatriated.
Holiday makers will also be protected if an unexpected event, such as an earthquake or a terrorist attack, prevents them from going home. In that case the organiser would have to pay for an additional stay of up to three nights.
Even before the trip takes place, travel enthusiasts will benefit from better information. Organisers and retailers will have to make clear to their customers that they are buying a package and inform them of their rights. The information offered should also include an emergency contact in case something goes wrong. There is also an obligation to give travellers approximate departure and return times and an indication of any possible extra costs. In addition, holidaymakers will get the right to cancel the package before it starts or to transfer it to another person.
The deal still has to be formally approved by the European Parliament and the Council before the new rules can enter into force.
Thank you to MattJP for making the photo available.