Holiday packages

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Anyone purchasing a holiday package should first understand the following four terms:

  • holiday package – a set of travel services that are sold for a combined price (e.g. transport, accommodation, excursions), that are provided throughout the period of at least 24 hours;
  • tour operator – travel company that organises holiday packages and sells them on their own or though other travel companies;
  • travel agency – travel company that sells holiday packages compiled by tour operators;
  • security deposit – compulsory insurance of travel companies, which will be used to cover the travellers’ return home should the company declare insolvency, or to reimburse the advance payments of consumers whose trips got cancelled.

Proper understanding of these terms helps consumers find their way in the world of holiday packages and ensures that they are aware of their rights and obligations.

Advice for purchasing a holiday package
  • Pick a destination and visit as many websites of travel companies in order to get an overview of prices. Pay attention to whether the marked prices are final prices or are they accompanied by the term “starting from”. Prices often have an asterisk that refers to a tin note at the bottom of the page explaining that prices start from that sum. Make sure that all potential additional fees and taxes have been included in the price.
  • Pay special attention to accommodation. Lottery accommodation means that you will not be notified of the type or district of your hotel in advance. In terms of hotel stars, keep in mind that a five star hotel in Egypt may stand for the same standard that a three star hotel in Europe.
  • If you have chosen a package that is mediated by a travel agency, enquire about the actual tour operator.
  • Make sure that both the mediating travel agency and the actual tour operator are registered companies. This is proof of that the company is operating on a legal basis. Registration can be verified by checking the register of economic activities.
  • Additionally, check whether the travel companies have sufficient security deposits. For example, the security deposit of a company that organises air travel holiday packages should be at least 32,000 euros, companies that organise bus trips and companies that mediate packages should have a security deposit of at least 13,000 euros. The security deposit can be verified by checking the register of economic activities.
  • Learn more about the travel agency’s and tour operator’s background by conducting online searches and be sure to check the black list of the Consumer Protection Board as well.
  • Once you have selected your trip and a suitable travel company, it is best to turn to the office of the travel company. It is difficult to verify agreements that have been made over the phone.
  • The company should be able to provide thorough material about the trip and the travel destination, their travel consultant should be ready to answer your questions. 
  • Enquire about the longest and shortest period during which you can withdraw from agreed travels and how much money you will be refunded in those cases.
  • Be sure to check if and what kind of visas you will need and how much these will cost. Find out whether the visas will be acquired by the travel company or you have to do that on your own.
  • Make sure you know what will happen if any issues arise during your travels and how to solve them.
  • Before giving your final approval, carefully read the contract of purchasing the travel service. If anything remains unclear, ask for specifications from the travel consultant. 
  • The travel vendor should provide you with a document that states
    • the actual tour operator and the contact information of their local representative;
    • final price and schedule of the trip;
    • detailed information about transport, accommodation, meals and scheduled entertainment;
    • information about passport and visa requirements;
    • terms and conditions for travel agreement withdrawal.
  • You should receive a purchase document confirming you advance payment, i.e. an invoice or a cheque.
  • Keep all the documents, invoices etc. until the end of the trip. These will help solve any potential complaints in the future.