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ACM checks compliance with travel guarantee rules among travel agencies

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has reprimanded travel agencies for failing to participate in travel guarantee funds. As a result, travel agencies have subsequently made sure they do now. Travel agencies are required to offer a travel guarantee scheme to passengers who book packages or linked travel arrangements. In this way, consumers who have already paid for their trips would not lose their money if these agencies went bankrupt. In addition, with these guarantee schemes in place, consumers who have already started their trips can be repatriated if necessary.

Edwin van Houten, Director of ACM’s Consumer Department, comments: ‘Consumers must be able to have confidence in travel agencies participating in travel guarantee funds as required by law. That is why ACM has compelled businesses that did not have their travel guarantee schemes in order to fix this. We will continue to keep a close watch on them. Businesses that do not comply with these rules, risk a fine or an order subject to periodic penalty payments without additional warning.’

Action by ACM

In order to verify whether the travel agencies had their travel guarantee schemes in order, ACM performed checks. Furthermore, ACM received reports from businesses and consumers through ConsuWijzer, its consumer information portal. This led to ACM contacting fifteen businesses that did not participate in any travel guarantee funds. ACM had announced it would impose orders subject to periodic penalty payments on seven of these fifteen businesses, before they implemented the required adjustments. Eventually, in none of those cases, ACM needed to impose the orders, because the businesses involved had made sure they offered a travel guarantee scheme.

Rules for travel guarantees

The rules for travel guarantees were changed on 1 July 2018. In more situations than before, travel agencies are required to participate in travel guarantee funds or take other measures. In addition to packages, they now have to do so for linked travel arrangements too. Linked travel arrangements are trips consisting of different components that the passengers themselves have put together. Many businesses participate in the following travel guarantee funds: Stichting Garantiefonds Reisgelden (SGR), Garantiefonds voor Gespecialiseerde Touroperators (GGTO), and STO Garant.

Reports from businesses and consumers are important to ACM in order to determine whether travel agencies have made the necessary arrangements for travel guarantees, as required by law.