26th March 2020
The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport today issued guidance on the right of travellers to terminate package travel contacts due to the extraordinary circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak.
A ‘package’ means a combination of travel and tourist services for the purpose of the same trip or holiday that lasts for at least 24 hours or, if less than 24 hours, includes an overnight stay. It is generally purchased from a single point of sale and sold at an inclusive price or advertised as a package. It must include at least two of the following: transport, accommodation, car rental, or a tourist service or activity such as golf or hillwalking that accounts for a significant proportion of the value of the package.
Section 18A(4) of the Package Holidays and Travel Trade Act 1995 gives travellers the right to terminate package travel contracts before the start of the package in the event of unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances occurring at the place of destination of the package or its immediate vicinity that significantly affect the performance of the package or the carriage of passengers to the package destination. Where package travel contracts are terminated in accordance with this right, travellers are not required to pay any fee for the termination of the contract and are entitled to a full refund of all payments made for the package not later than 14 days after the contract is terminated.
Subject to review in the light of changing circumstances and evolving official health and travel advice, the guidance provides that the right of travellers under section 18A(4) of the Act to terminate package travel contracts on the grounds of unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances resulting from COVID-19 that are significantly affecting the performance of packages or the carriage of passengers to package destinations should for the present apply only to package travel contracts due to start before 29 May 2020.
Where however packages covered by the Act that are due to start after 29 May 2020 include a travel service (such as a flight or accommodation) or a tourist service (such as attendance at a sporting or cultural event), and that travel or tourist service has already been cancelled or is cancelled before 29 May 2020 on grounds relating to travel and other restrictions resulting from COVID-19, travellers should be entitled from the time of the cancellation of the travel or tourist service to terminate the package travel contract without paying a termination fee and to receive a full refund of all payments made for the package.
If unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances resulting from COVID-19 are still significantly affecting the performance of packages or the carriage of passengers to package destinations after 29 May 2020, the guidance will be updated to provide that the right to terminate package travel contracts on these grounds under section 18A(4) of the Package Holidays and Travel Trade Act 1995 should continue to apply for a further specified period.
The purpose of the guidance is to provide clarity to travellers, travel agents and tour operators about the application of the right to terminate package travel contracts in the current conditions of very considerable uncertainly. The full guidance statement can be accessed at: Guidance on the right of travellers to terminate package travel contracts due to extraordinary circumstances resulting from COVID-19.
Back to Department News