The Conservative party has been branded “shameless” for laying claim to new rules governing sales of package travel in the UK.
The new Package Travel Regulations (PTRs), the government’s interpretation of the EU’s Package Travel Directive (PTD), came into force on Sunday (July 1).
They broaden the definition of a package holiday to include flight-plus bookings, introduce a new category of booking (linked travel arrangements) and require agents to provide more information up front about bookings.
The government says the new rules will protect an extra 10 million package travel holidays a year and save consumers millions of pounds a year.
The PTRs also more tightly regulate OTAs selling package holidays, ensuring they provide consumers the same protection they would get booking through a high street or independent travel agent.
However, a Conservative party tweet claiming it had introduced the new rules was met with derision on Sunday.
The PTD was published back in December 2015 and EU member states were given until January 2018 to enshrine them in UK law. The UK government missed this deadline.
The resultant PTRs were finally published in mid-April, giving the industry just 10 weeks to respond. Promised guidance notes on the PTRs are still yet to be published.
Furthermore, despite having the best part of 28 months to produce the PTRs, they were dismissed by Lindsay Ingram, chairman of the Association of Atol Companies, as “a copy and paste job”.
On Sunday, hundreds replied to the Conservatives tweet, many accusing the party of “taking credit” for the new protections and stressing the government had merely moved to implement the EU directive, as required by the UK’s membership obligation, rather than drafting them first-hand.
Kuoni boss Derek Jones was among those irked by the tweet, replying: “Quelle surprise... the UK Govt shamelessly takes full credit for the implementation of a beneficial EU directive.”
Sarah Archer, Beachcomber UK sales manager, added: “BTW the new package travel directive is nothing to do with the Conservative party...it’s an EU directive!”
Travel lawyer David Green added: “These new rules directly implement EU Directive 2015/2302, on package travel and linked arrangements. The UK Government was required to implement it whether it wanted to or not. Almost as if some good things come from the EU?”
TTG has approached the Conservative Party for comment.