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UK Watchdog Warns of Consumer Confusion Over UK Travel Regulation Reform

 |  February 19, 2024

The UK’s competition regulator has issued a stark warning regarding the government’s proposed reforms to the Package Travel Regulations (PTRs), cautioning that the changes could result in confusion for consumers and significant upheaval within the travel sector.

The Department of Business and Trade (DBT) unveiled its proposals in September, aiming to revamp the PTRs by implementing a minimum cost threshold for package rules, deregulating domestic holidays, and streamlining or eliminating Linked Travel Arrangements.

However, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), in its response to the DBT’s call for evidence, has raised concerns about the potential repercussions of these proposed alterations. The CMA highlighted the risk of “unintended and unforeseen consequences” resulting from the significant changes to the PTRs.

“The CMA believes that one of the primary reasons consumers opt for a package holiday is the elevated level of protection it affords,” stated the CMA in its response. “Should this protection diminish, consumers may find themselves with less recourse when issues arise, potentially prompting them to seek alternatives, thereby triggering substantial transformations within the sector.”

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Moreover, the authority cautioned that the proposed reforms could diminish the standard of protection offered by tour operators selling packages to UK customers compared to their counterparts in other nations. Specifically, the removal of financial protection from domestic packages was highlighted as a concern, with the CMA expressing apprehension that this move could confuse consumers, particularly if a tour operator offers both protected foreign holidays and non-protected domestic ones.

The CMA’s response underscores the complexity and potential pitfalls of the government’s proposed PTR reforms. While the DBT seeks to modernize and streamline regulations, the cautionary stance from the CMA emphasizes the need for thorough consideration of the implications for consumer protection and industry stability.

Source: TTG Media