21 January 2010
The rights of travellers largely depend on whether the holiday they have purchased is a package travel or not. Now, package travels can be identified easily with the new Package Travel Label. The Consumer Agency's registry of travel agencies, in turn, can be used to ensure the reliability of travel agencies.
The choice every consumer planning a holiday has to make is whether to purchase a package travel or obtain the required services separately. This choice has a significant impact on the consumer's rights in case problems occur.
The term package travel refers to, for example, traditional package tours which include flights and accommodation. In addition to these, the package can contain other travel-related services, such as tickets to a sports event or a safari. Packages can also be fully customised to meet the needs of each individual customer.
Package travels are primarily paid for beforehand. The customer's payment is protected against the travel agency's bankruptcy by a security. Package travels can also be cancelled if certain terms are fulfilled. Separately purchased travel services, however, do not have this type of protection against bankruptcy, and cancelling or changing flight dates may prove difficult.
Unfortunately, whether or not certain holidays are package travels has not always been clear to consumers. To clarify this distinction, several travel agencies will introduce the new Package Travel Label. The label can be used on websites and in brochures and reservation confirmations to indicate that the consumer is dealing with a package travel.
"In addition to the security provided regarding the customer's payment, the Package Travel Label is an assurance that one party, the tour operator, is responsible for the entire travel package," explains Managing Director of the Association of Finnish Travel Agents (AFTA) Heli Mäki-Fränti.
Before purchasing a package travel, consumers should check the reliability of the travel agency in question via the registry of travel agencies, which is maintained by the Consumer Agency. The registry can be accessed at www.valmismatka.fi.
"Consumers can minimise their risks by ensuring that the travel agency has signed up for the registry, that it provides the appropriate security and that no restrictions have been set on the agency," describes Lawyer Petteri Lehtonen.
Package travel brochure (in Finnish)