ECTAA har publicerat följande pressrelease:
ECTAA bi-annual meeting: Competitiveness at the heart of the discussions
How to make the package travel market more competitive was the key question debated at the bi-annual meeting of ECTAA in Cracow on 1 June by the Members of the European Federation of travel agents and tour operators and the European Commission’s representative in charge for the revision of the package travel legislation, Ms. Manfredi. Competitiveness was also the key element in Mr Andropoulos’ presentation on tourism related activities led by the European Commission.
In her presentation, Ms. Manfredi, Head of Unit in DG Justice responsible for the revision of the package travel Directive, recalled the need for such revision. A European legislation that dates from 20 year ago needs adapting to the evolution of the travel market, in particular the internet and low cost carriers. The package travel market is declining, with an increasing number of consumers opting to organise their holiday themselves, rather than purchasing the traditional pre-arranged package. Dynamic packages, allowing customers themselves to select the elements of their travel, is becoming increasingly popular, but customers are not always aware whether they are still protected under the European legislation when they buy such services.
The need to revise the Directive is shared by the industry. But where views diverge between the industry and the European legislation initiating institution is on how to make this industry more competitive again.
The industry is calling for a better level-playing field between tour operators offering traditional pre-arranged packages and all those operators on the market, which offer similar products but today are not covered by the European legislation and thus escape stringent information and liability provision as well as requirements to protect against their insolvency. These include for example the enterprises offering dynamic packages and click-through sales. The industry welcomes the Commission’s intentions to capture at least some of these operators but are very concerned about possible additional obligations put on tour operators, where no equivalent obligations exist for operators falling outside the scope of the legislation.
The Commission believes that giving more rights to consumers and making them aware of their rights will make the package travel product more attractive again and thereby increase its market share. A number of options are considered by the Commission, among other the introduction of a label to raise customers’ awareness that they are protected and enjoy a number of rights.
Said newly-elected President of ECTAA, Mr. Boris Zgomba: “The package travel market is a very price sensitive market and most often the decision to buy one product over another boils down to the best price offered. In such context what the package travel market needs is a level-playing field between all those operators that offer package travel and similar products to the travelling public.”
He further noted: “While the package travel Directive has been a good piece of legislation for the industry and the customers, we need to ensure that we do not overregulate part of the industry that is offering high protection to customers but will not be able to sustain the competition from all those players that manage to escape from the consumer protection legislation.
Mr. Andropoulos, Head of Unit in DG Enterprise, also stressed the aim of competitiveness in all the actions undertaken by his Unit in the frame of the European tourism policy, such as those relating to better accessibility for all in tourism services, uptake of ICT in small and medium-sized tourism companies, better understanding the skills and education requirements of people working in the tourism industry, etc. ECTAA is closely involved in one of the actions through the management of the TOURIMSLink project, which aims at creating links between smaller local tourism enterprises to improve their competitiveness through the smart use of information and communication technology.
* * *
Directive 90/314/EEC on package travel, package holidays and package tours has been adopted in 1990 with the aim of protecting consumers buying a package travel holiday, consisting of, at least, transport and accommodation sold or offered for sale at an inclusive price. The Directive contains rules concerning the liability of package organisers, who must accept responsibility for the performance of the services offered. The Directive also prescribes rules on the information that must be given to consumers at different points in time and requires organisers to provide a security in order to provide repayment of the price and repatriation of consumers in the event of the operator's insolvency.
In 2007 the Commission announced its intention to revise the package travel Directive to adapt the legislative framework to the travel sector which has evolved considerably in recent years, such as the development of the internet, the entry of low cost air carriers and the increasing trend of consumers putting together their own holiday components from different service providers, instead of opting for packages pre-arranged by an organiser.
A number of consultations and stakeholder meetings have been organised by the Commission with the industry and other stakeholders. A legislative proposal for the revision of the package travel Directive is foreseen for the end of 2012.
Date of publication: 6 juin 2012
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