Consumer rights for package holidays are set to be brought into line with the internet age after they were given the go-ahead by MEPs in the European Parliament this week.
Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder is supporting calls for the existing EU rules, which date back to 1990, to be updated to improve compensation rights and ensure that people who book custom holiday packages online are protected.
The new rights would make it clear who is liable for each service being provided and give customers the right to compensation if services provided are not up to standard or a holiday is spoilt. Buyers of a package holiday will be given more flexibility to cancel their booking as long as they pay a small compensation fee, or for free in case of an unforeseen event such as a natural disaster or civil unrest.
In the case of an unforeseen event, such as a natural disaster, which makes it impossible to return home on time, organisers would have to arrange accommodation for stranded travellers for up to 5 nights.
There would also be a 8% cap on price increases, and any price reductions of more than 3% would have to be passed on to consumers.
"For over 20 years EU consumer rights have ensured that British travellers are well protected when they book package holidays in Europe.
"But the internet has led to a dramatic change in the way people book their holidays. More and more people are no longer going to their local travel agent but arranging package holidays online, and we need to change the rules to reflect this.
"These new rights will give holidaymakers peace of mind before they jet off and ensure they are protected and entitled to compensation if things go wrong.
"It is also good news that tour operators will now have to pass on savings to customers instead of just saddling them with extra costs."