Pluses and Pitfalls of Package Holidays – Your Rights as a Consumer

With summer well and truly upon us, many of us are looking into booking that much needed summer break. Package holidays have always been a popular choice amongst Irish consumers. This article will focus on the information a consumer must be provided with by law when booking a package holiday and the legal options available to a consumer in the event of something not quite going according to plan…
What is a Package Holiday?
A package holiday is pre-arranged, sold by a travel agent or tour operator at an inclusive price, covers a minimum of 24 hours and comprises of at least two of the following components:

  • Travel
  • Accommodation
  • Other tourist services or activities that are not directly linked to transport or accommodation but which make up a significant part of the cost and package.

What Information is to be Provided to a Consumer?
On booking a package holiday, a consumer must be provided with a copy of a contract containing the terms and conditions of the booking, to include the following:

  • The destination and duration of the holiday
  • The mode of transport and travel details
  • Accommodation details
  • The meal plan
  • Cancellation details
  • Contact details of the organiser/tour operator
  • Payment details
  • Any tax or compulsory charge
  • Complaints procedure
  • Any special or exceptional requirements which a consumer has asked for and has been accepted by the organiser/tour operator

Prior to booking, the organiser/tour operator must also provide information on the following:

  • Passport and visa requirements
  • Health formalities
  • Insurance requirements
  • Arrangements should the consumer need to be repatriated (i.e. return home unexpectedly)
  • Arrangements in the event of insolvency

Changes and Cancellations
If the organiser/tour operator makes an amendment to the travel plan or cancels the package holiday, one of the following must be provided to a consumer:

  • A replacement package of equivalent or superior quality
  • A lower grade holiday, with a refund of the difference in price
  • A full refund

Consumer Complaints
If a complaint arises while the consumer is on holiday, the local representative of the organiser/tour operator will most likely be the person best equipped to deal with the complaint and must be given an opportunity to remedy the situation. If the problem is not resolved at this point, a consumer has 28 days to make a further complaint in writing to the organiser/tour operator.
If the organiser fails to remedy the situation, a consumer, having exhausted the above, ought to obtain legal advice.