Europe Protects the Traveler But Also Considers SMEs
Fiavet, the Association of Italian Travel Agents, and Confcommercio, the Tourism and Travel Confederation, are satisfied with the proposed revision of the Package Directive (PTD) and the Regulation on Passenger Rights 261-04 which takes into consideration the requests proposed during consultations with stakeholders, including Fiavet-Confcommercio, for the evaluations of impact.
“We appreciate that many of our proposals which were not there before have been implemented now by the European Union,” stated Giuseppe Ciminnisi, President of Fiavet-Confcommercio, adding, “Among these, the obligation to reimburse suppliers of services included in travel packages in favor of package organizing agencies.”
The proposal remains the obligation to reimburse the passenger in the event of withdrawal by the travel organizer, but at the same time the obligation of the suppliers, in turn, to reimburse the organizer of the travel package is envisaged.
A new paragraph is added which specifies that if service providers cancel or do not provide a service that is part of the package, they are obliged to refund the organizer the payments received for the service within 7 days. A very important battle between Fiavet and Confcommercio finds acceptance in this proposal.
What about air passenger rights?
As regards the proposal to revise the regulation on air passenger rights, Fiavet-Confcommercio appreciates that the centrality of the travel agency as an intermediary in ticket sales is reiterated, legitimated to represent the customer in all aspects. Some carriers will have to take note of this, abandoning policies of ostracism towards the category.
Ciminnisi also noted that there is a limitation on advances, but it is limited to the reintroduction of the 25% advance that was canceled with the 2015 revision: it is not a completely satisfactory provision, but certainly better than the imposition of a ban on advances which Fiavet-Confcommercio had loudly asked not to include. Additionally, higher deposits may be required if this is necessary to ensure the organization and execution of the package, and this rule does not apply to travel gift packages.
Another proposal from Fiavet-Confcommercio that is being implemented is the introduction of vouchers. It was observed that the voucher represents a tool that guarantees companies from liquidity problems and at the same time gives the consumer a legal instrument for the recovery of their credit.
In the new proposal, the voucher is reintroduced as a form of reimbursement, with the obligation, in the event of non-use, to reimburse the passenger in pecuniary form. It is still envisaged as an option at the discretion of the consumer, but there will be the opportunity to present improving amendments before the proposal reaches Parliament.
Finally, the proposal provides that 5 years after its entry into force, the Commission will present a report to the European Parliament and the Council on the application of the directive, taking into account its impact on SMEs.
“All changes seem to us to be in line with the proposals of Fiavet-Confcommercio, reiterated a few days ago in the letter to the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, to the Minister of Tourism, Daniela Santanchè, to the Heads of the Italian delegation of the European Parliament, to the Italian MEPs (Model European Parliament) in the Transport and Tourism Commission at the ECTAA,” added Ciminnisi. He concluded:
“Considering that we are still in the proposal phase and that a process will follow with the amendments deemed necessary, we can say that we started from a good base, certainly improvable, but participatory and shared beyond expectations.”