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DIY holiday? It can be a false economy

It’s been a disappointing summer for anyone wanting a glimpse of sunshine. Many British families appear to have given up hope and are heading abroad. And with the traditional hike in prices during school holidays, many are on the look out for the “cheap deal”.

You can’t miss the vast array of internet sites dedicated to finding the cheapest possible holiday, encouraging people to shop around for separate flights, accommodation and transfers in order to get the best price. But what a lot of people fail to realise is the actual cost of a DIY holiday if things go wrong…

Package holidays (those which include key components such as flights, accommodation and transfer booked together via the same operator) are much better protected than a DIY holiday where each component is booked separately.

Under the Package Tour Regulations 1992, package holiday-makers can make a claim directly against their UK tour operator should something go wrong. The tour operator is under an obligation to ensure that foreign suppliers perform their parts of the contract to a reasonable standard, and remains directly liable to the consumer for any breaches. Meanwhile, DIY holiday-makers would be forced to pursue claims directly against individual foreign suppliers.

Protection offered by the regulations includes:

• Promotional material must not be misleading and must contain clear, adequate information about price and destination
• A tour operator must provide customer various details prior to their holiday including information about visas and health formalities as well as an itinerary
• Tour operators are prevented from changing the price of a holiday once the contract entered into, unless the customer is given the option to withdraw from the tour without penalties
• Crucially, the UK tour operator is liable for the proper performance of the contract, including liability for the actions of its agents’ abroad (hoteliers etc.) The package tour operator therefore has a responsibility to ensure that the individual suppliers deliver services properly, or they can face a direct claim by a customer for any damage caused.

Our personal injury team acts for many people who have been seriously injured whilst on holiday or contracted illnesses due to poor hygiene conditions, for example. Relying on the Package Tour Regulations we are able to pursue a claim against the UK tour operator directly, without the complications of pursuing claims against suppliers in foreign countries.

Although its not something anyone likes to think about when embarking upon a holiday, do bear in mind that the marginal saving made by booking a DIY holiday can be a false economy if something does go wrong.