Question of the week: What comes with the new travel law on vacationers?

July 2018 enters for tourists a new travel right into force. The so-called EU Package Travel Directive is aimed primarily at consumers who plan their vacation via the Internet. The objectives of the reform are greater transparency and longer deadlines to indicate shortcomings. However, consumer advocates are critical of the new directive.

The new travel law not only brings holidaymakers positive changes

  • From 1 July 2018, the new EU Package Travel Directive will apply to EU citizens.
  • With the reform, the outdated travel law is to be adapted to the Internet age and thus become more contemporary.
  • Despite some benefits for consumers planning their vacation online, the new travel law is viewed more critically.

From July 2018 there are changes in the travel law for tourists. Reason for the changes: vacationers are increasingly planning their time off independently through online providers. The tourism industry therefore saw the previous framework of travel law, which has not been adjusted since 1990, in the Internet era as obsolete and made demands for an adjustment. Therefore, the new EU Package Travel Directive will in future include online travel planning and be more consumer-friendly . But when do tourists really benefit from the new travel law and where are the pitfalls?

Online offers blur the boundaries between traditional forms of travel

Travelers who plan their vacation often have to decide in advance whether to book an all-inclusive trip or a package holiday or whether they prefer to plan every step of their trip themselves. Each form of travel is accompanied by different rights . For example, a classic holiday package offers more rights than an individual holiday.

Due to the countless, diverse online offers, however, even today’s most experienced holidaymakers quickly lose track of which rights apply to the services booked. Numerous customer complaints and reports from tour operators eventually led to the EU defining a new form of travel , the so-called connected travel service.

When will the new EU Package Travel Directive apply?

The new EU Package Travel Directive, in addition to traditional package holidays, focuses on connected travel services . With these vacation travelers are confronted especially in the online area .

In many cases, the customer can tie up his own travel package today. If the consumer books at least two different types of services for the same trip within a short time, but concludes separate contracts , the connected travel service is available. The services can be, for example, a flight and the hotel in the resort. The agent must inform the customer about the connected travel service.

Important: With individual travel the new travel right does not apply. This means that trips that are completely self-employed, booked without tour operators and consist of several individual contracts are not considered by the directive.

What advantages does the new package travel policy promise?

As part of the new travel rights, customers will benefit from a number of changes in the future. At the conclusion of the booking of a connected travel service holidaymakers will soon be informed by standardized information sheets on insolvency protection , withdrawal rights and claims for price reduction . A measure that should ensure greater transparency and comparability, especially with online bookings.

In addition, holidaymakers who are dissatisfied with the booked services, the deficiencies up to two years retroactively . Even the compensation for lost holiday pleasure can be claimed here. However, those affected should not wait too long. Because “the longer the traveler waits, the more difficult it will be in court to prove the defect,” explains Felix Methmann, travel law expert at the Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband, the Osnabrücker Zeitung.

Enjoy the journey stress-free

The holiday should be the best time of the year. It is all the worse when unexpected problems with the tour operator cause the recovery to disappear prematurely. If there is a legal dispute, vacationers are protected with a good legal expenses insurance against high legal fees.

Additional regulation when canceling the trip

So far, it was only in the case of force majeure possible for travelers to withdraw from their trip for free. This includes unexpected events that holidaymakers have no control over. This can be, for example, a natural disaster or political unrest.

The reform of the Package Travel Directive has expanded the scope. Package holidaymakers can cancel their holiday free of charge from July onwards, when they speak of unavoidable, extraordinary circumstances . These include, for example, terrorist attacks . Here it is important that the travelers inform themselves about the situation on site before they arrive at the Federal Foreign Office .

Rising costs for tourists cause criticism

Consumer advocates have been criticizing the reform of the EU Package Travel Directive for a long time. Above all, they complain about the additional hurdles that come with the changes to consumers and point out that some travel services are not included in the protection . Thus fall according to financial test individual services, such as apartments or houses , not in the new travel law. The same applies to daily and short trips under 500 euros. As a result, it becomes more difficult for vacationers to claim compensation or they have to adapt to the guidelines of the holiday destination.

In addition, they must now expect up to 20 days before the trip even with price increases. In the future, tour operators will be entitled to increase the travel price by up to eight instead of the previous five percent . Holidaymakers, who pay 3,000 euros for their trip, would have to pay for example 240 euros more, as a short-term rebooking would usually be more expensive.