Customers buying DIY holidays via the internet should have the same financial protection as other travellers, according to a European Commission report.
Brussels wants to extend 20-year-old rules covering traditional package holidays to include the new generation of so-called 'do it yourself' holidaymakers who buy travel and accomodation separately, not as part of a package (find out your rights in the Section 75 and Visa Chargeback guides).
More than two-thirds of website holiday planners do not realise their tailor-made trip is often not covered by current EU rules giving automatic redress rights for false holiday information claims, sub-standard services or where the airline or holiday firm goes bust.
The Commission says an average 23% of EU holidaymakers are now booking DIY trips.
EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva said this week: "We need tough protection that gives all consumers booking a package holiday the peace of mind they deserve, and we need a level playing field so businesses compete on equal terms.
"I am particularly concerned about the issue of insolvency. Anyone who saw the TV pictures of thousands of holidaymakers stranded at airports after bankruptcies from Sky Europe to XL, Futura and Zoom, knows that now is the right time to ask tough questions about extending basic insolvency protection to consumers across the board."
The report is likely to be followed late next year by proposals to update the existing rules, including specific air passenger legislation to tighten consumer protection, particularly when airlines go bust.
The move was reinforced by new calls from Euro-MPs for insolvency action.
"People look forward to their holidays all year. We must protect passengers left stranded when airlines go bankrupt," says Labour MEP Brian Simpson, chairman of the European Parliament's Transport Committee.
He said 77 airlines had gone bankrupt in the past nine years - many of them in the last 18 months in the wake of the economic crisis and high fuel prices.
"This trend is not likely to end in the near future, so we are pushing for something to be put in place that protects both the passengers who are left stranded and the people who have bought tickets for flights that can't be taken and have lost money as a result."
Further reading/Key links
Get refunded: Section 75 and Visa Chargeback guides
Cut-price cover: Cheap Travel Insurance
Slash flying costs: Cheap Flights