The Consumer Authority takes action against tour operators failing to provide travel compensation
The Consumer Authority is once again taking action against tour operators that have failed to arrange travel compensation measures required by law when providing package tours. An independent study and indications given by consumers of ConsuWijzer and the organisation of the Netherlands Association of Tour Operators (ANVR) have all shown that there are still tour operators offering package tours without providing travel compensation. Within the course of this legal action, the Consumer Authority will charge approximately one hundred companies in total who are suspected to be contravening the law. Bernadette van Buchem, Director of the Consumer Authority explains: “The travel industry is a dynamic sector. It is therefore vital that legal action is taken on a regular basis against companies that do not comply with legislation. Consumers booking package tours with a tour operator who is not fulfilling its legal obligations may be misled and we are therefore taking action against this. Consumers must also be alert to this issue when booking a trip.”
Actions taken by the enforcement authority
All companies offering package tours are legally obliged to put in place the necessary measures in the event that they were to go into liquidation, to name but one example. The Consumer Authority has the power to take legal action against tour operators who do not provide travel compensation. These companies will now be given a deadline for putting these necessary measures in place. If these companies fail to do so, the Consumer Authority will take enforcing actions and will take those companies to court. The courts can then force the company to put measures in place and may also impose penalties.
The Consumer Authority has already taken legal action against tour operators who do not provide travel compensation. Previous action taken by the Consumer Authority has led to a number of companies taking measures in the meantime to put in place travel compensation in order to comply with the law. The majority of companies were propelled into action after receiving a summons from the enforcement authority, whilst others made the necessary changes after a judgment was handed down by the courts. A small number of companies closed down or are no longer offering package tours.
When booking their trips, consumers must also take care to ensure that they are dealing with a tour operator who has put measures in place to offer them protection in the event that the company becomes insolvent or goes into liquidation. The majority of companies have arranged their travel compensation through the Travel Bookings Compensation Fund [Stichting Garantiefonds Reisgelden (SGR)] and display the appropriate logo.
Consumers can find more information regarding travel compensation at www.consuwijzer.nl. They can also submit complaints there regarding tour operators who have not put appropriate measures in place.
Tour operators offering package tours must put measures in place to protect travellers against the consequences of insolvency or liquidation. These measures must ensure that travellers who have already paid for the cost of their trip will have their money refunded if the tour operator goes into liquidation. Travellers who are already travelling will be repatriated. Companies are expected to provide consumers with information on this subject. The majority of tour operators in the Netherlands have arranged their travel compensation via the Travel Bookings Compensation Fund [Stichting Garantiefonds Reisgelden (SGR)].
A package tour is a tour consisting of a number of different elements incorporating at least transportation and accommodation (an overnight stay or a stay lasting longer than 24 hours) or one of these, plus another essential tourist service.