Expatica news

“Travel agency can be shut down”

7 August 2007

BRUSSELS – Travel agencies and tour operators that fail to follow through on agreements with customers risk a heavy penalty or may even be forced to shut their doors, the Standaard reports.

This clause is included in a new Flemish regulation on travel agencies. The regulation gives the Flemish government the authority to exercise more control in the sector.

Every holiday season gives rise to a host of stories about stranded travellers or tourists complaining that they did not get at all what they paid for.

Duped consumers can file their complaints with the Arbitration Board for Travel, but the number of cases heard there remains limited. The court can take action in consumer cases, but these complaints are rarely a priority.

That is why travel agencies usually escape any penalty when they fail to follow through on obligations to travellers or compensate them for damages suffered. Thanks to the new regulation the Flemish government will be able to take action in such cases.

Travel agencies and tour operators that leave their customers in the cold risk fines of up to EUR 25,000 come September. If they repeatedly do so the Flemish government can shut down the business.

The regulation also stipulates that travel agencies must inform travellers of any problems with their travel arrangements. Many stranded tourists complain about a lack of information when they are unable to leave on holiday or return home.

The regulation will only apply to travel agencies based in Flanders. Foreign companies and internet business will remain beyond the reach of the penalties.

[Copyright Expatica News 2007]

Subject: Belgian news