General Terms and Conditions
of the Disputes Committee for the Travel Industry for Package Travel Contracts
Article 1: Scope of application
These general terms and conditions apply to package travel contracts that are booked as of 1 July 2018 and are governed by the Law on the sale of package travel, linked travel arrangements and travel services of 21 November 2017.
Article 2: Information from the organiser and retailer before the conclusion of the package travel contract
The organiser as well as the retailer shall provide to the traveller, before the latter is bound by a package travel contract, the legally prescribed standard information, as well as, in so far as this applies to the package:
- the main characteristics of the travel services:
- the travel destination(s), itinerary and periods of stay, with the dates and the number of nights;
- the means, characteristics and categories of transport, the points, dates and times of departure and return, the duration and places of intermediate stops and transport connections; where the exact time is not yet determined, it is communicated approximately
- the location, main features and the category of the accommodation under the rules of the country of destination;
- the meal plan;
- the visits, excursions or other services included in the total price agreed for the package;
- if it is not otherwise clear, whether any of the travel services will be provided to the traveller as part of a group;
- the language in which other tourist services as applicable are carried out;
- whether the trip is generally suitable for persons with reduced mobility;
- the total price for the package, and where applicable, indication of the type of additional costs that the traveller may still have to bear;
- the payment terms;
- the minimum number of persons required for the package to take place and the deadline for any cancellation of the contract if that number is not reached;
- general information on passport and visa requirements, including approximate periods for obtaining visas and information on health formalities, of the country of destination;
- the mention that the traveller can cancel the contract in return for payment of a cancellation fee;
- information about the cancellation and/or assistance insurance policies.
The professional will ensure that the right standard information form is provided to the traveller.
The pre-contractual information provided to the traveller forms an integral part of the package travel contract.
It cannot be altered unless by mutual agreement of the parties.
Article 3: information by the traveller
The person who concludes the package travel contract must provide to the organiser and the retailer all useful information about himself and his fellow travellers that may be important for concluding or performing the contract.
If the traveller provides incorrect information which leads to extra costs for the organiser and/or retailer, these costs may be charged.
Article 4: the package travel contract
At the conclusion of the package travel contract or within a reasonable period, the organiser – or, if a retailer is involved, the latter – shall provide to the traveller a confirmation of the contract on a durable medium, such as e.g. an e-mail, a paper document or a pdf.
The traveller shall be entitled to request a paper copy if the package travel contract has been concluded in the simultaneous physical presence of the parties.
The package travel contract or confirmation thereof contains the full content of the agreement, including all of the information as mentioned in article 2 and the following information:
- the special requirements of the traveller which the organiser has accepted;
- that the organiser is liable for the proper performance of the package, and has an assistance obligation;
- the name and the contact details of the entity in charge of the insolvency protection;
- the name, address, telephone number, e-mail address of the local representative of the organiser or of another service for the case that the traveller is in difficulty or wishes to complain about the possible lack of conformity;
- the traveller´s obligation to communicate the lack of conformity during the trip;
- information on the basis of which direct contact can be made with an unaccompanied minor or with the person who is responsible for him at his place of residence ;
- information about the internal complaint handling procedure;
- information about the Disputes Committee for the Travel Industry and the platform of the E.U. for online dispute resolution;
- information on the right of the traveller to transfer his contract.
In good time before the start of the package, the organiser shall provide to the traveller:
- the necessary receipts
- the vouchers and tickets
- information on the scheduled times of departure and, where applicable, on the deadline for check-in, the scheduled times for intermediate stops, travel connections and arrival.
Article 5: The price
After the conclusion of the package travel contract, the prices may be increased only if the contract expressly reserves that possibility. In that event, it is indicated in the package travel contract how the price revision is calculated.
Price increases are only allowed as a direct consequence of changes in:
- the price of the carriage of passengers resulting from the increased cost of fuel or other power sources, or
- the level of taxes or fees on the travel services included in the contract imposed by third parties not directly involved in the performance of the package, including tourist taxes, landing taxes or embarkation or disembarkation fees at ports and airports, or
- the exchange rates relevant to the package.
If a price increase is provided for, the traveller is entitled to a price reduction in the event of a decrease of the above-listed costs.
If the increase exceeds 8% of the total price, the traveller may cancel the contract without paying any cancellation fee.
A price increase shall be possible only if the organiser notifies the traveller thereof at the latest twenty days before the start of the package on a durable medium, such as e.g. an e-mail, a paper document or a pdf, with a justification for that increase and a calculation.
In the event of a price decrease, the organiser shall have the right to deduct administrative expenses from the refund owed to the traveller. At the traveller´s request, the organiser shall provide proof of those expenses.
Article 6: Payment of the cost of the trip
Unless otherwise agreed, at the conclusion of the package travel contract the traveller pays as an advance a part of the total cost of the trip such as established in the special conditions.
Unless otherwise agreed in the package travel contract, the traveller pays the balance of the price at the latest 1 month before the departure date.
If the traveller, after he was first formally notified of being in default, fails to pay the advance or the cost of the trip which is demanded of him, the organiser and/or retailer shall be entitled to terminate the contract with the traveller ipso jure, with the costs to be borne by the traveller.
Article 7: Transferability of the package travel contract
The traveller can transfer the package travel contract to a person who meets all of the conditions that apply for this contract on condition that he:
- informs the organiser and possibly the retailer as quickly as possible and at the latest 7 days before the start of the package via a durable medium, such as e.g. an e-mail, a paper document or a pdf, and
- bears any additional costs that derive from the transfer.
The party that transfers the package and the party that takes over the contract are jointly and severally liable for the payment of the amount still owed and for any additional fees deriving from the transfer. The organiser notifies the party that transfers the contract of the costs of the transfer.
Article 8: Other changes by the traveller
If the traveller asks for some other change, the organiser and/or the retailer who can fulfil it may charge all costs that are caused as a result.
Article 9: Change by the organiser before the departure
The organiser cannot unilaterally alter the provisions of the package travel contract, with the exception of price changes prior to the start of the package, unless:
- the organiser reserved this right in the contract, and
- it involves an insignificant change, and
- the organiser notifies the traveller thereof via a durable medium, such as e.g. an e-mail, a paper document or a pdf.
1. If, before the start of the trip, the organiser is constrained to significantly alter one of the main characteristics of the travel services or cannot fulfil the confirmed special requirements of the traveller, or proposes to increase the price of the package by more than 8%, the organiser must inform the traveller thereof and make him aware:
- of the proposed changes and their impact on the price of the package;
- of the possibility of cancelling the contract without costs, unless he accepts the proposed changes;
- of the period within which he must inform the organiser of his decision;
- of the fact that if he does not expressly accept the proposed change within the indicated period, the contract is automatically terminated and
- where appropriate, of the proposed substitute package and its price.
If the changes to the package travel contract or the substitute package have as a consequence that the quality or the costs of the package decrease, the traveller is entitled to an appropriate price reduction.
If the package travel contract is cancelled on the basis of article 9.2 and the traveller does not accept a substitute package, the organiser shall pay back to the traveller all amounts paid at the latest fourteen days after the contract is cancelled.
Article 10: Cancellation by the organiser before departure
The organiser can cancel the package travel contract:
- if the number of persons enrolled for the package is smaller than the minimum number stated in the contract and the organiser notifies the traveller of the cancellation of the contract within the period fixed in the contract, but not later than:
- twenty days before the start of the package in the case of trips lasting more than six days;
- seven days before the start of the package in the case of trips lasting between two and six days;
- 48 hours before the start of the package in the case of trips lasting less than two days, or
- if the organiser is prevented from performing the contract because of unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances and notifies the traveller of the cancellation of the contract without undue delay before the start of the package.
In these cases, the organiser shall refund to the traveller all amounts that he received for the package, without owing any additional compensation for damages.
Article 11: Cancellation by the traveller
The traveller may cancel the package travel contract at any time before the start of the package. In the event of cancellation, the traveller may be obliged to pay a cancellation fee to the organiser.
In the package travel contract standardised cancellation fees can be set on the basis of the time of the cancellation before the start of the package and the expected cost savings and income from alternative deployment of the travel services.
If no standardised cancellation fees are set, the amount of the cancellation fee corresponds to the price of the package minus the cost savings and income from alternative deployment of the travel services.
However, if unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances arise at the place of destination that have significant consequences for the performance of the package or which significantly affect the passenger transport of the travellers to the place of destination, the traveller shall have the right to cancel the package travel contract without paying any cancellation fee. In the event of cancellation of the package travel contract under this article, the traveller shall be entitled to a full refund of any payments made for the package, but shall not be entitled to additional compensation for damages.
The organiser shall refund, at the latest within fourteen days, all amounts that were paid by or on behalf of the traveller, minus the cancellation fee.
Article 12: Lack of conformity during the trip
The traveller shall notify the organiser without delay of any lack of conformity that he identifies during the performance of a travel service included in the package travel contract.
If any of the travel services are not performed in accordance with the package travel contract, the organiser shall remedy this lack of conformity, unless that:
- is impossible, or
- entails disproportionate costs, taking into account the extent of the lack of conformity and the value of the travel services affected.
If the organiser does not remedy the lack of conformity, the traveller is entitled to a price reduction or compensation for damages in accordance with article 15.
If the organiser does not remedy the lack of conformity within a reasonable period set by the traveller, the latter may do so himself and request reimbursement of the necessary expenses. It shall not be necessary for the traveller to specify a time-limit if the organiser refuses to remedy the lack of conformity, or if an immediate solution is required.
Where a significant proportion of the travel services cannot be provided, the organiser shall offer, at no extra cost to the traveller, alternative arrangements of, where possible, equivalent or higher quality.
Where the other proposed arrangements result in a package of lower quality, the organiser shall grant to the traveller an appropriate price reduction.
The traveller may reject the other proposed arrangements only if they are not comparable to what was agreed in the package travel contract or the price reduction granted is inadequate.
Where a lack of conformity substantially affects the performance of the package and the organiser has failed to remedy it within a reasonable period set by the traveller, the latter may cancel the package travel contract without paying a cancellation fee and, where appropriate, request a price reduction and/or compensation for damages. If the package includes the transport of passengers, the organiser shall also provide repatriation of the traveller.
If it is impossible to make other arrangements or the traveller rejects the proposed arrangements, the traveller is, where appropriate, entitled to price reduction and/or compensation for damages even without cancelling the package travel contract.
As long as it is impossible to ensure the traveller´s return as agreed in the package travel contract because of unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances, the organiser shall bear the cost of necessary accommodation, for a period not exceeding three nights per traveller.
The limitation of costs referred to in 12.6 shall not apply to persons with reduced mobility, to any person accompanying them, to pregnant women and unaccompanied minors, as well as persons in need of specific medical assistance, provided that the organiser has been notified of their particular needs at least 48 hours before the start of the package.
The organiser may not invoke unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances to limit the liability if the relevant transport provider may not rely on such circumstances under applicable Union legislation.
The traveller may address messages, requests or complaints relating to the performance of the package directly to the retailer through whom it was purchased. The retailer shall forward those messages, requests or complaints to the organiser without undue delay.
Article 13: Liability of the traveller
The traveller is liable for the damage that the organiser and/or retailer, their employees and/or representatives suffer through his fault, or if he has not fulfilled his contractual obligations.
Article 14: Liability of the organiser and the professional
The organiser is liable for the performance of the travel services that are included in the package travel contract, regardless of whether these services are performed by the organiser or by other travel service providers.
Where the organiser is established outside the European Economic Area, the retailer established in a Member State shall be subject to the obligations laid down for organisers, unless the retailer provides evidence that the organiser fulfils the conditions prescribed by the Act of 21 November 2017.
Article 15: Price reduction and compensation for damages
The traveller is entitled to an appropriate price reduction for any period during which there was lack of conformity of the services provided, unless the organiser proves that the lack of conformity is attributable to the traveller.
The traveller shall be entitled to receive appropriate compensation from the organiser for any damage which the traveller sustains as a result of any lack of conformity. Compensation shall be made without undue delay.
The traveller shall not be entitled to compensation for damages if the organiser proves that the lack of conformity is attributable to:
- the traveller;
- a third party unconnected with the provision of the travel services included in the package travel contract and is unforeseeable or unavoidable, or
- unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances.
Article 16: Assistance obligation
The organiser shall without delay give appropriate assistance to the traveller in difficulty, in particular by:
- providing useful information on health services, local authorities and consular assistance;
- assisting the traveller to make distance communications and helping the traveller to find other travel arrangements.
The organiser shall be able to charge a fee for this assistance if the difficulty is caused intentionally by the traveller or through the traveller´s negligence. That fee shall not in any event exceed the actual costs borne by the organiser.
Article 17: Complaint procedure
If the traveller has a complaint prior to departure, he must communicate this as quickly as possible, with substantiating evidence, to the organiser or the retailer.
Complaints during the execution of the package travel contract must be communicated by the traveller to the organiser or retailer as soon as possible on site, in an appropriate manner and with substantiating evidence, so that a solution can be sought.
If a complaint was not satisfactorily resolved on site or it was not possible for the traveller to formulate a complaint on site, then he must, after the end of the travel contract, without undue delay submit a complaint to the organiser or the retailer accompanied by substantiating evidence.
Article 18: Conciliation proceeding
In the event of a dispute, the parties must first try to arrive at an amicable settlement between them.
If this attempt at amicable settlement fails, then any of the parties involved can ask the vzw Geschillencommissie Reizen [non-profit association Disputes Committee for the Travel Industry] to initiate a conciliation proceeding. All of the parties must consent to this.
For this the secretariat will provide to the parties a set of conciliation rules and a “conciliation contract”.
In accordance with the procedure described in the rules, an impartial conciliator will then contact the parties in order to seek an equitable conciliation between the parties.
Any agreement reached will be set down in a binding written contract.
Article 19: Arbitration or court
If no conciliation proceeding is initiated (or if it fails), the claimant can if desired start an arbitration proceeding before the Disputes Committee for the Travel Industry or commence a proceeding before the court.
The traveller can never be obliged to accept the jurisdiction of the Disputes Committee for the Travel Industry, neither as claimant nor as respondent.
The organiser or retailer who is the respondent can only refuse the arbitration if the amount claimed by the claimant is more than 1,250 euros. For this he has a period of 10 calendar days after receipt of the registered letter or e-mail with proof of receipt in which it is indicated that a file with a claim as of 1,251 euros was opened at the Disputes Committee for the Travel Industry.
This arbitration proceeding is governed by arbitration rules, and can only be initiated after the submission of a complaint to the company itself and as soon as it is established that the dispute could not be amicably resolved or as soon as 4 months have passed after the (anticipated) end of the trip (or possibly as of the action that gave rise to the dispute). Disputes relating to physical injuries can only be settled by the courts.
The arbitration board with equal representation pronounces its decision, in accordance with the arbitration rules, in a binding and definitive manner on the travel dispute. No appeal against this decision is possible.
Secretariat of the Disputes Committee for the Travel Industry:
Telephone: 02 277 62 15 or 02 277 61 80 (9 a.m. to 12 noon) ; fax: 02 277 91 00
City Atrium, Vooruitgangstraat 50, 1210 Brussels