Fewer holidaymakers to be left high and dry by failed tour operators
Unfortunately, a large percentage of UK holidaymakers travel abroad totally oblivious of what happens if their tour operator or carrier goes bust either before they travel or, worse still, during their actual holiday.
Those who are aware of the ATOL ( Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing ) protection scheme run by the Civil Aviation Authority will obviously take the trouble to find out if their trip is covered or not before they sign on the dotted line. However, far too many people still book without even thinking about who picks up the pieces if things go wrong. The situation has been made far worse since consumers started to shun High Street travel agents who used to point out such pitfalls and began booking online instead.
Travel agents traditionally sold package holidays which, more often than not, were covered by the ATOL scheme but holidaymakers booking online are now assembling their own packages from the same source believing that they all come under the same umbrella.
With so many operators failing in recent years, the government is now insisting that purveyors of such “ Flight –Plus” holidays also include ATOL cover which costs them £2.50 per passenger. This seems a small price to pay for the comfort of knowing that, if your holiday carrier goes under, you will get a full refund enabling you to rebook with someone else or, if you are actually overseas when the failure occurs, you will be flown home at no extra expense.
The expansion of the ATOL scheme is scheduled for April 30th and is estimated to benefit up to 6 million additional holidaymakers flying from the UK annually. However, even this major extension of coverage still leaves quite a gaping hole by not doing anything for individuals who book their own flights and then organise accommodation in a hotel or rented property totally separately.
There are many who would argue that all forms of foreign holiday bookings should be automatically covered even if it is the consumer who ultimately pays.
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