ABTA and the Federation of Tour Operators have criticised the Government for failing to meet its Christmas deadline to provide clear guidance on what constitutes a package holiday.

The final ruling on what legally comprises a package is being handled by the newly formed Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, which had said it would make an announcement before Christmas. However, it has confirmed this is now postponed until the new year.

With the peak selling season starting in just over a fortnight, ABTA head of policy and communications David Marshall said the trade was still in limbo thanks to the lack of a definitive ruling.

He added: “We have been pressing the Government to come out with a ruling so there is clarity in the market. We need it as soon as possible and the Government is aware that January is an important time for the travel industry.

“It is frustrating that we’ve worked with the Government for some time and we’re now in this position.”

Marshall advised agents to follow the ruling given by the court of appeal in June last year regarding what constitutes a package and reminded them that they should protect themselves with an ATOL licence should they be undertaking dynamic packaging.

FTO director-general Andy Cooper agreed that the Government’s failure to issue clarification of the law will not help with January fast approaching.

He added: “I remain certain that there’s still confusion, although it is better that they get it right rather than do it in a rush.

“If in doubt, an agent should view what they are creating as a package and protect it accordingly.”