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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 January 2006, 10:38 GMT
Holidaymakers get greater rights
A beach
Nine out of 10 package holidays will be covered by the code
Holidaymakers will find it easier to get a refund if holidays goes wrong, the travel industry has promised.

A newly launched code of practice by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) aims to enhance consumer rights and improve customer service.

The code sets up an arbitration service to decide on levels of compensation for disgruntled holidaymakers.

ABTA members who fail to comply with the code will be hauled in front of a disciplinary committee.

Consumers can be confident that they will receive a standard of customer service above the basic requirements of the law
John Fingleton, OFT chief executive

Rights boost

ABTA members account for 90% of package holidays sold in the UK.

The new code, which comes into force on Thursday, aims to give consumers the following rights:

  • Access to low-cost dispute arbitration should things go wrong on holiday
  • A disciplinary committee to deal with members who do not deliver the standards required by the code
  • A new set of model consumer terms and conditions for ABTA members to follow.

Keith Bretton, head of corporate affairs at ABTA, hailed the code as boosting current consumer protection.

"More and more consumers demand a dream holiday, and ABTA's code of conduct sets down standards that guarantee the best of practices within the travel industry," Mr Bretton said.

Official support

ABTA's code is one of the first to receive the approval of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

Gaining code approval means that members will be able to display a logo saying "OFT - Approved Code".

OFT logo
The seal of approval from the OFT

According to the OFT, shoppers who see the new logo will be able to buy with the confidence that if something goes wrong they will be properly treated.

"Consumers can be confident that they will receive a standard of customer service above the basic requirements of the law and access to a dispute resolution mechanism if things go wrong," John Fingleton, OFT chief executive said.

In addition to ABTA, several other trade bodies have received full OFT approval, including the Ombudsman for Estate Agents (OEA), the Direct Selling Association (DSA), the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), and the Vehicle and Repairers Association (VBRA).

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