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Package Tour Operators responsibilities

Too many times these days do we see the fall out from sloppy and sometimes illegal activity by a tour operator. Here we set out our responsibilities and affirm our position as a tour operator who packages a product with financial security and a smattering of integrity.

What is a Tour Operator responsible for?

Doing thorough research on destinations and keeping up to date with possible issues tour operators have an obligation to keep consumers safe. Of course, this can vary from travel agents to tour operators, and it’s important to know the difference between a tour operator’s obligations and a travel agent’s.

This doesn’t apply to consumers or travel businesses individually, but to both sides of the equation. In this rapidly changing situation, it matters more and more that the consumer is being protected and taken care of. Whether this means the consumer doing their research and being aware of the risks they’re taking, or, if it means the travel business being flexible and available for assistance throughout the package.

The protection of our consumers is a top priority. Financially, legally, or otherwise, we pride ourselves on providing the best protection possible.

Providing quality service and assistance isn’t always such a black and white issue, however. Especially during Covid, obligations to the consumer have become much more of a grey area.

What is the consumer responsible for and what is the tour operator responsible for?

Things to Consider If A Consumer Gets Stuck Abroad During Covid

This is the big question. There is a lot to consider on this front, from the state of the country before the holiday, to the services the country provide, and even the consumers themselves (are they travelling as a group, must the whole group stay behind, etc.).

Not only this, but the specific situation is unique, and most cases will require slightly different care. This can make it difficult as a travel business to determine what you have the responsibility for, and where the consumer must take matters into their own hands.

The most important thing for us is being available.

As the organiser of the package, we accept we have legal obligations to provide assistance if a consumer is stranded abroad due to Covid.  

There are possibilities of additional costs and services depending on if you need extra accommodation and transport, but the bottom line is that we remain available for assistance from the moment a consumer signs the contract, until the consumer arrives home.

Whether the consumer is protected for extra accommodation by the resort they’re staying in, by other means, or we are legally required to provide some financial assistance, it’s important that the consumer can get in contact with us at any time to resolve issues on holiday and we help you figure out what to do. When you are on our holiday, you are in part our responsibility as the organiser of the package.

What Responsibilities Do Tour Operators Have If the Consumer Gets Stuck Abroad?

In this case, there is some determination based on the details of the situation if you cannot avoid it If the package includes transport to/from the UK, and the consumer tests positive, but can prove that the positive test was a result of unavoidable or unexpected circumstances, for example, then you are legally covered under the Package Travel Regulations for 3 nights of extra accommodation under a reasonable price if transport is included in your package. 

This applies to other situations when you cannot get the consumer transport home for unavoidable or extraordinary circumstances related to Covid. If there is proof that neither we nor the consumer could have reasonably predicted, prepared for, or avoided the situation, the obligation for assistance falls to us.

However, we do not have to provide the full 3 nights if you can get transport before then, but we are obliged, as the organiser, to take care of you abroad in this manner.

The obligation to prove that the customer is stranded abroad due to ‘unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances’, as required in order to trigger the right to 3 nights’ accommodation, falls on you, the customer.

Some examples of this would be if travellers don’t adhere to restrictions such as wearing a mask. They might also be going to a higher risk country that is advised against visiting by the FCDO. In this case, that is your responsibility to be taking that risk.

Equally, you could state that you followed all the guidelines and did all you were required to do to avoid contracting it. If the judge decides that it is more than 50% likely that the consumer took all reasonable measures, then the responsibility for accommodation cost is passed to the organiser.

If the package does not include transport to/from the UK, then we, as the tour operator has no obligation to provide this 3 nights’ accommodation as our role will end at the end point of the package.

Even to this rule there are exceptions. In the case that id you are pregnant, an unaccompanied minor, or has reduced mobility, then there is no limit to 3 nights.

What If I Need Help Determining Who is Responsible?

In this situation, we are always here to help. You can get in contact with one of our great staff by calling +44(0)7398862181 and we will do all we can to help you decide what’s the best course of action for you.

Beyond providing accommodation, our main role as the organiser is to assist in the ways we can. This could include providing information on health services, new flights if they need to reschedule, where to get Covid tests, or any protective measures that your accommodation provides.  

If we, however, can prove that you did not take reasonable measures, we are at liberty to charge for any assistance we give, however we are still under the tour operator’s obligations to give it. When you are on holiday, you remain our responsibility as long as you do all you can in return.

How Do We Avoid These Circumstances?

The two main things that’ll keep everyone protected against these situations, are staying informed, and good travel insurance.

It is generally your responsibility as opposed to one of our obligations to be aware of certain risks and situations when you go abroad during Covid. For example, if the FCDO advise against a destination, but you wish to go anyway, it is in your hands to be aware of those risks before you travel there.

However, this doesn’t mean that, as the organiser, we cannot ensure the consumer is informed so that everyone is on the same page. It’s important to check that you know the risks and restrictions, know what will happen in certain situations, know the health and safety requirements of the destination, and where, how, and when you can get Covid tests.

Taking some time to make a list of things you need to know and we'll check with you so you know and understand them, could be the difference between that 3 nights’ accommodation and the holiday going as smoothly as planned.

The information you have is equally important. The detail you receive upon booking is very important. Ensure you have a set of terms and conditions, a full quotation that includes payment schedules. Understand where you deposit and further payments are kept, ie, the trust fund details, ask for a copy of the travel bond or an insurance policy.

At the moment, having the right information is a vital part of travel to stay protected.

Considering this, ensuring you are aware that travel insurance is vital. At the end of the day, we cannot find this for you, or force you to take travel insurance, but making sure you are aware of the necessity of it, and what you should be looking for to provide you with protection against these possibilities. This isn’t so much one of our obligations, but it does give a huge helping hand to both you and us.

This is another way that providing assistance is crucial, making sure that you know what to be looking for, and the need to read a travel insurance contract thoroughly.

None of these situations are easy, there’s always going to be slightly different results for different cases and it’s important to assess these properly as individual circumstances, as well as trying to prevent them.

If you need assistance or advice for one of these circumstances, we are here to help, so don’t hesitate to get in contact with Rogue Sports Travel by calling +44(0)7398862181.

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