European Council Directive 90/314/EEC protects consumers when purchasing a ‘package holiday’.
A holiday is to be considered a ‘package’ if:
- it has been prearranged to cover a period of more than 24 hours or includes an overnight accommodation;
- it includes at least two of the following components: transport; accommodation; other tourist services not ancillary to transport or accommodation but accounting for a significant proportion of the package, such as excursions or other guided tours.
Any brochure made available to the consumer by the travel operator must clearly include the following information:
- The price;
- Any tax or compulsory charge;
- The destination, the itinerary and the means of transport used;
- The type of accommodation;
- The meal plan;
- The passport and visa requirements;
- The health formalities;
- The timetable for payment;
- The deadline for informing the consumer in the event of cancellation
The information contained in the brochure is binding on the travel organiser and cannot be changed unless any changes have been communicated to the consumer prior to the conclusion of the contract and there has been agreement between the parties to the contract about such changes.
Prior to the conclusion of the contract the travel organiser is also required to provide the consumer in writing with the following information:
- general information on passport and visa requirements;
- information on the health formalities required for the journey and the stay
In addition, in good time prior to the commencement of the journey, the travel organiser shall provide the consumer in writing with the following information:
- The times and places of intermediate stops and transport connections as well as the place to be occupied by the traveller;
- Details of the person to contact in case of difficulty;
- In the case of minors, information regarding direct contact to be made with the child or the person responsible at the place where he is to stay;
- Information regarding the optional conclusion of an insurance policy
Should the consumer is unable to continue with the package, the consumer is to be allowed to transfer his booking to a person who satisfies all the conditions applicable to the package, provided that the consumer gives reasonable notice of his intention before departure to the organiser.
The prices laid down in the contract cannot be changed except in specific circumstances and where the contract expressly provides for the possibility of the revision of the price. The contract shall state precisely how the revised price is to be calculated and the variations are only to be allowed in the following circumstances:
- In case of variations in transport costs, including cost of fuel;
- In cases of change in government tax or duty;
- In variations in the exchange rates applicable to the particular package.
No changes are to be made within 20 days of the departure date. Where after the departure changes are made to the contract, and a significant proportion of the services contracted for is not provided, suitable alternative arrangements are to be made by the organiser, at no extra cost to the consumer for the continuation of the package, and where appropriate compensate the consumer for the difference between the services offered and those supplied. In case the travel organiser cancels the package before the date of departure, the consumer shall be entitled for either:
- A replacement package of equivalent or superior quality;
- A lower grade package with a refund of the difference in price between the two packages;
- A full refund.