31 March 2014
Your Legal Rights as a Consumer on Holiday
With the resurgence of the all-inclusive holiday comes the resurrection of fears that local people in all-inclusive resort areas are being starved of the local business on which they rely, but is all-inclusive all that bad?
Holidays are intended to be stress-free and many of us want to escape the stress of planning a holiday in the first instance. This is where the package holiday comes into play. All-inclusive essentially allows us consumers to have our cake and eat it too.
The all-inclusive boom has seen demand for package holidays increase by up to a third over the past decade. The UK charity Tourism Concern recently expressed the view that the all-inclusive holiday is “stifling business” outside the four walls of the all-inclusive resorts that are rightfully proving more and more popular with today’s holidaymakers.
Two Sides of the Same Coin
Tourism Concern believes that the benefits enjoyed by the all-inclusive holidaymaker come at a price; a price paid by local people. All-inclusive holiday resort hotels often have their own bars, restaurants and entertainment venues arguably leaving little in the way of incentive for us to explore beyond the confines of the resort and experience the local culture. As a result, the pockets of local businesses are left empty whilst tour operators pocket most of our spending money. However, Tourism Concern also acknowledge the flipside: job creation in some of the highest unemployment areas in the world, to name just one.
There are also a range of advantages to the consumer which Tourism Concern does not appear too concerned about. Travelling all-inclusive gives us certainty. We pay one fixed price upfront and are given the chance to experience a memorable holiday with financial peace of mind. In addition, once we arrive in these increasingly exotic locations, we are not simply cast adrift and left to negotiate foreign surroundings alone.
With a growing number of us travelling abroad each year, it is inevitable accidents on holiday will occur. Whilst educating ourselves on the impact of all-inclusive packages on local communities, it's also time to educate ourselves on our legal rights as consumers and how travelling under a “package” protects us and our Travel Rights. What many people fail to realise is that opting for a package deal means opting for consumer protection.
Your Legal Rights as a Consumer on Holiday
The one key benefit of going on an all-inclusive package holiday is the protection afforded to us by government legislation if things go wrong abroad.
Government legislation in this area means that consumers who purchase a “pre-arranged combination of at least two […] components when sold or offered for sale at an inclusive price and when the service covers a period of more than 24 hours or includes overnight accommodation” are entitled to extensive legal protection on all aspects of that packaged travel.
If your travel agent becomes insolvent or fails to deliver (even if you do not have insurance), your package holiday entitles you to:
- a full refund or
- a choice of an alternative holiday
This is because you are ATOL protected (you are covered by an Air Travel Organiser’s License).
Who is Liable?
If you become injured or suffer from illness during the course of your package holiday then the tour operator is liable.
Regulations 4 & 5 of the Package Travel Regulations impose duties on a tour operator to ensure that the holidays they provide are accurately described and that information provided is not misleading. A tour operator will be liable for failure to deliver on what is advertised.
|Tour Operator’s Liability||Your Compensation|
For giving you misleading descriptions relating to:
• the package itself,
• the price of the package,
• other conditions applying to your package deal
this misleading description could be in or on:
• holiday itineraries,
This includes liability for facility and service delivery of a third party
What about natural disasters?
In these instances, it is likely that the circumstances will be beyond the tour operator’s control.
Although the Regulations place the tour operator under a duty to provide “prompt assistance to a consumer in difficulty”, it is unlikely that you will be able to claim compensation for “acts of god” or force majeure”.
|So, for example, the hotel in your package deal is described as having a lift in the main building. However, on arrival you discover that you actually have to climb 39 steps with your two young children and a pushchair just to get to the restaurant. If you suffer injury as a result, the tour operator may be liable.
What could I recover?
(a) compensation for the personal injury you suffered abroad;
(b) compensation for breach of contract which caused you loss of enjoyment of your holiday;
(c) compensation for the out-of-pocket expenses you incurred due of any breach of contract;
(d) compensation for the loss of value incurred due to the price paid for the holiday exceeding the value of the holiday you received.
How do I recover?
As it may not be the holiday provider itself but other parties who are liable, you will need to seek specialist legal advice.
Your travel agent may also be liable under Regulation 14. Travel agents enter into a separate contract with you and should take preventative steps to ensure that you get what you expect.
|Travel Agent’s Liability||Your Compensation|
If your holiday turns out differently to what you expected because services were not provided, the travel agent is liable.
|So, for example, if you arrive at your destination airport only to find that your transfer to the hotel has been cancelled, the travel agent must:
How am I compensated?
(a) Offer suitable alternative arrangements
(b) Offer appropriate transport
(c) provide suitable compensation
Can I claim compensation in the UK?
Yes. Broadly speaking, a package holiday travel claim will be run as though the accident occurred in the UK.
If you feel that you have a potential holiday accident or sickness claim (such as food poisoning), it's important for you to act immediately to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
If you are not well-versed in consumer law it's important that you seek specialist legal advice from a Solicitor that specialises in travel claims to prevent you from being undercompensated of facing incorrect legal challenges.
To find out more, or to read the Package Travel Regulations in full, please see below.
Source Government legislation on package holidays/tours.
By Moji Sobowale a Trainee Solicitor in the Personal Injury Travel Law department of Pannone, Part of Slater and Gordon.
For a free consultation about claiming compensation for injury or illness on holiday, call freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we'll be happy to help you.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers have offices in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Milton Keynes, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Sheffield, Halifax, Newcastle, Wakefield and meetings rooms in Bramhall, Cheshire.