Brussels, 26 November 2009
Package Travel: Key Facts and Figures
Key developments in the package travel sector:
Europe is the world's largest regional travel market with sales of €246 billion in 2008. Traditional packages (pre-packaged deals containing several elements such as travel and accommodation) account for 40% ( € 98.4 billion) of the total travel market, while dynamic packages for 33% and other travel arrangements for 25% of the market.
Nowadays, a majority of the EU citizens (56% of holidaymakers across the EU, organise their holidays themselves, rather than purchase pre-defined packages (traditional holiday package covered by the Package Travel Directive).
Increasingly large volumes of bookings are made by consumers who have put together their own packages (dynamic packaging), where travellers themselves put together two or more services, such as flight and accommodation from one supplier or from commercially linked suppliers or websites offering packages with partner websites. For instance, a consumer may book a flight online and then be redirected to a partner website offering hotel stays or car rental.
It is important to note that genuinely separate bookings where the consumer buys different components from different sellers /websites that are not linked or co-branded are generally not covered by the review. These "independent travel arrangements" are not considered part of the Package Holiday Sector.
The number of consumers booking ‘dynamic packages’ is increasing dramatically. 23% of EU citizens have used dynamic packages in the past 2 years, but the figure is over 40% in countries such as Ireland (46%) or Sweden (44%), and very high also in countries such as Slovenia (42%) and Italy (36%). See Table 1 in MEMO/09/523 for details.
Many dynamic packages are currently not covered by EU Package Travel Protection. As a consequence an increasing number of consumers booking package holidays are falling outside the scope of the Directive. To illustrate the extent of the change, in 1997, 98% of passengers travelling from the UK on leisure flights were protected by the EU’s Package Travel Directive, whereas in 2005 this number is less than 50%.
It is also clear that consumers are not aware that their legal protection differs depending on how the arrangements are purchased – even though the package of travel components can be identical. 67% of consumers surveyed who used a "dynamic package" that was not covered by the Directive wrongly believed that they were protected. On average, a dynamic package which goes wrong means a loss of almost €600 for the consumer.
Over 50% of consumers believe that they are protected in case of airline bankruptcy when purchasing dynamic packages or independent travel arrangements. In many cases they are currently not covered.
Bankruptcy has become a more pressing concern for consumers, since the risk of insolvency has grown recently. Between November 2005 and September 2008, 29 airlines went bankrupt . In France, for example, there were also 125 bankruptcies of tour operators in 2008, affecting over 9,000 consumers, compared with 95 bankruptcies (affecting just over 2,500 consumers) in 2006 . Their effects on holidaymakers varied depending whether tickets were bought as part of a package holiday. As the travel trends have change significantly since the adoption of the Directive in 1990, it is important, particularly, to ask the question whether there should be different protection for insolvency for air tickets sold in a package and those sold as stand alone products.
The period of consultation is from 26.11.2009 to 07.02.2010
The online consultation:
More details on package travel http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/rights/travel_en.htm
European Commission, Study on Consumer Protection against Aviation Bankruptcy
APS, French Travel Guarantee Fund