Travel Consumer Guidance for holidaymakers with near future holidays to Tunisia!

HolidayTravelWatch is not surprisingly receiving a large number of calls from concerned UK holidaymakers due to travel on holiday to Tunisia.  The Organisation closely monitors all destinations for the potential of ‘risk’ and has noted for sometime the growth of discontent in Tunisia.  HolidayTravelWatch extends its sympathies to the Tunisian people and in particular those who work within the Travel Industry in that country, for the disruption and personal losses they have sustained.  We hope that their country will return to a rapid stability and witness the return of holidaymakers to their fascinating country!

Intending UK holidaymakers are obviously concerned that they may be exposed to a ‘risk’ which is not of their doing.  Many holidaymakers, who have contacted this Organisation, are due to travel to Tunisia in the next 2 months and are seeking to understand their Consumer rights!

HolidayTravelWatch notes that in the current furore, there are question marks over the fate of those who have allegedly booked a so-called DIY holiday!  The argument follows, if you have booked a ‘traditional’ Package Holiday, then your rights are contained within the Package Travel Regulations.  It is argued that if you have booked a so-called DIY holiday, you do not receive such protection and any rights you may have are contained within the contract(s) you may have; there is an argument that such arrangements could be classed as Package Holidays by the definition created by the UK Government!

This is clearly an unsatisfactory situation and HolidayTravelWatch has lobbied hard to ensure that the new package Travel Directive will end this detriment and bring all travel arrangements into its protections!

For the present we would point out to all holidaymakers, that in situations such as this, where it is clear that the contract is not viable, this could amount to a ‘significant change’ to the essential terms of the contract!

Regulation 12 advises that where such a change arises, the tour operator should advise of that change as soon as possible and allow the Consumer to decide whether to continue with the contract or not.  If the Consumer decides to not continue with the travel arrangements, they can cancel without penalty and receive their monies back.  The Consumer can accept changes to the contract and must receive notification which sets out the changes accepted.

Regulation 13 advises that where the Consumer decides not to continue with the travel or the tour operator cancels the holiday, the Consumer is entitled to a substitute superior package (if one is available), or a lower quality Package if one is available and to receive the price difference, or to have all monies repaid as soon as possible.

In different circumstances compensation would be payable, but given that ‘unusual and unforeseeable’ circumstances have arisen, it seems unlikely that compensation would be applicable.

Holidaymakers who are contacting this Organisation are querying whether they should travel in February/March – some simply do not want to travel at all!  It seems likely that the situation will take some weeks to resolve, if at all, and until such time as it becomes safe for the Travel Industry in Tunisia to resume its commercial activities, Consumer rights must be respected and applied.

Consumers concerned by events in Tunisia may also find useful our guidance given to holidaymakers following the recent civil strife/war in Kenya & Sri Lanka.  Above any rights Consumers may enjoy, there is the serious issue of Travel Insurance cover and how to deal with this important matter.

Frank Brehany, the Consumer Director for HolidayTravelWatch states:

“I extend my sympathies to the Tunisian people at this time and hope that better times lie ahead for them!  I congratulate the Travel Industry and the FCO for assisting UK Package Holidaymakers to return home; I am concerned for those so-called DIY holidaymakers and the assistance and rights they should be receiving!  I sincerely hope that the Travel Industry will recognise the issues attached to this ‘risk destination’ and observe and respect the rights due to intending Travel Consumers caught up in this difficult situation over the next couple of months!”

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised here, no matter what your destination, then please contact us at HolidayTravelWatch.

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