Package travel: Brussels wants to change the rules of the game

The European Union is preparing a revision of the Package Travel Directive, the purpose of which is to protect the rights of tourists who buy holiday packages from tour operators or tour operators. The future rules extend their scope to any purchase made by a professional registered in Europe. This means that tens of thousands of Moroccans who buy packages every summer to spend a few days on holiday in Spain or Portugal will be affected by this directive. Package travel still accounts for 25 to 30% of the market.

In the sense of the EU directive, a package tour is at least two tourist services such as: transport, accommodation and other services such as hiking, a rental car, an excursion, a shopping trip to outlet malls that abound in major cities in Europe.

To take advantage of the rights set out in the future Package Travel Directive, these services must be reserved, either simultaneously with a single professional or several times, even if the customer has been redirected to a partner site where he was able to book another travel service in less than 24 hours without having to re-enter their personal data (name, payment method, email).

The philosophy of the future rules on package travel is to ensure maximum protection for the consumer, although this formula is now in the minority in the buying behavior of tourists. Morocco, which appears in the top ten of destinations in the French tour operators’ order books, still retains some bastions of the “all-inclusive” product, especially in Agadir.

What should the travel contract include?
The contract must be clear, comprehensible, legible and given to you in writing on a durable medium (implied, paper), the directive specifies from the outset.

It must contain all the following information: the contact details of the organizer or seller, the guarantor (the company with which the service provider has taken out insolvency insurance), the contact details of the local representative (the recipient), mention of the dealer’s and organizer’s responsibilities for performance of the contract; , that the traveler is obliged to report any non-compliance he finds during the journey.

Finally, the document must specify the internal procedures for handling complaints and the contact details of the designated mediator. The absence of any of these indications may result in the invalidity of the contract in the event of a dispute in court. Tour operators have been warned.

Changes in the journey: what are the customer’s rights?
If changes occur before departure, the professional must inform the customer as soon as possible to allow him or her to either terminate the contract free of charge (therefore with full refund of the amounts already paid), if these changes are significant; or to accept the changes with a surcharge that includes the validated changes and their possible impact on the price.

The cases where the tour operator or tour operator can request additional costs are strictly limited. If changes occur after departure (services not provided or deviate from the contract), the professional must either offer alternative services to the customer, at no extra cost (unless this is impossible or incur disproportionate costs), or refund cash for services, not delivered.

If it is the return journey that is affected – which often happens – the professional must arrange the home transport and cover any additional accommodation costs (max. Three nights) for the client. Please note that the latter is not entitled to further compensation (other than reimbursement of services) if the change or cancellation of the stay is due to a case of force majeure, as was the case with tourists stuck in Morocco after the decision to close. limits on the height of the waves from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Price review before the trip
If price changes take place before departure, the tour operator or TO must inform the customer as soon as possible so that they can: either terminate the contract free of charge (therefore with full refund of the amounts already paid), if these changes are significant; or to accept the changes with a surcharge that includes the validated changes and their possible impact on the price.

Cases of travel cancellation
When the contract is canceled by the seller or organizer, he must refund the trip in full. However, the customer can not claim further compensation if the minimum number of participants on the trip stipulated in the contract has not been reached and if the professional has informed the customer within the legal deadlines, or if the contract can not be performed due to unusual and unavoidable circumstances, ie. . force majeure.

What happens if the tour operator goes bankrupt?
Any trader who sells package travel services on EU territory is required to take out insolvency insurance with an EU-based financial institution in order to reimburse the consumer or insure his repatriation in the event of bankruptcy. The consumer can contact the guarantor directly (if contact information is to be specified in the contract) to activate his right to the completion of the trip or to reimbursement.

Top ten in TO catalogs this summer

Before the health crisis, “last minute” was almost the only booking option for package holidays. But since the lifting of restrictions almost everywhere in Europe and at medium- and long-distance destinations, French professionals have noticed a change in customer behavior. People have booked their vacation weeks or even months in advance. It is clearly the desire to leave and “change air” that dominates, the tour operators explain.

The French, the first clientele of Moroccan tourism, are beginning to project themselves. At the usual main destinations, starting with France itself, the months of July and August are “full” everywhere at accommodations and campsites.

Top 10 reservations (according to data collected in late April) for July and August 2022 are as follows: Malta, Porto (Portugal), Ajaccio (France); Lisbon (Portugal); Figari (France); Athens (Greece); Palma de Mallorca (Spain); Bastia (France); Montreal (Canada); Marrakech, Morocco).

Cancellation due to exceptional circumstances:

In the event of a natural disaster or serious security issues at the destination that could affect the trip, TO or the tour operator may cancel it. The customer can also cancel his subscription for free for the same reasons.

In this case, he is entitled to a refund of all the payments he has made (and not a voucher), but he can not claim further compensation.
At the height of travel restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic, tour operators offered customers coupons that could be used at a later date instead of a refund. But as a customer, you have the option of requesting a cash refund, the directive states.

AS / ECO Inspirations

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