Trading Standards Officers welcome new protections for holidaymakers

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Trading Standards Officers from Nottinghamshire County Council have welcomed new protections for people booking holidays, but still advise holidaymakers to take further precautions.

The extension of the Air Travel Organisers Licensing (ATOL) scheme, which came into force this week, means that millions more holidaymakers than before will be protected if their tour operator collapses.

‘Flight Plus’ trips - deals sold by travel agents or tour operators where travelers have the flexibility to match preferred flights with preferred accomodation - now have the same protections as those booking traditional package holidays.

The ATOL scheme entitles travellers to a refund in the event of the holiday firm collapsing.

However, it only covers customers booking flights and accomodation or car hire together through an online or high street travel agent or tour operator - not if booked through an airline.

To qualify for the cover, the flights and accomodation must also be booked within a two day time period of each other with the same provider.

From October, a certificate will be issued to each customer to clarify whether they are covered by the scheme.

Nottinghamshire County Council Trading Standards Officer, Paul Gretton, who is Team Manager for Scambusters East Midlands said, “Any moves which offer greater protection to Notts residents when they book holidays should be welcomed. However, it is vital that people know the limitations of the additional cover and what further measures they can take.

“We would always advocate using ABTA registered companies. That way, if you are unhappy with any aspect of your trip and are not satisfied with the response of your travel company, ABTA can provide an independent arbitration and compensation scheme.

“There are benefits to booking your holiday or flight by credit card because the credit card company would become jointly liable in the event of any breach of contract, such as the tour operator going bust. However, this is only advisable if you are able to pay it off immediately, we wouldn’t encourage people to use it as a means of borrowing money for a holiday.”

For further information on your consumer rights when booking holidays, call the Citizens advice Consumer helpline on 08454 04 05 06.