New package travel directive to be ‘obsolete in months’

A new European Package Travel Directive will be “obsolete” within months and require fresh reform, the head of the European Tour Operators Association (Etoa) has warned.

Etoa chief executive Tom Jenkins (pictured) issued the warning as the European Commission prepared to sign off the final text of the directive this week following agreement between the Council of Europe and European Parliament.

The new Package Travel Directive (PTD) will bring most online sales of holidays within the definition of a package and create a new category of ‘linked travel arrangements’ to cover click-through sales between linked websites.

Jenkins welcomed some of the provisions, including clarification that companies selling across EU borders need only comply with the consumer financial protection regime of one member state.

But he said: “The last PTD was outdated by a combination of new technology and customer preference. The new PTD will be subject to the same forces.

“Any intervention in the online market draws a response which makes the intervention obsolete. This is a process of months, not years. As soon as this reform is effected, new reform will have to be initiated.”

Jenkins added: “There will be a lot of grumbling that the EU has extended regulation over a burgeoning sector. Regulations cost money, and these costs are always borne by the consumer.”

Etoa described some of the provisions as “unreasonably onerous, especially for small businesses”. It also criticised the absence of a pan-European system of financial protection for consumers.

Etoa head of policy and strategy Tim Fairhurst said: “A single market for tourism services is still a long way off.”

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