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Protect your holiday

The nightmare scenario for any holidaymaker is being stranded when their airline or tour operator goes out of business. A year ago we would have said that fortunately this was not an everyday occurrence,  but 2008 is turning out to be very different with a spate of airline and tour operator failures.  The latest, XL Travel, has resulted in thousands stranded abroad and more at home with their holiday dreams in tatters. Regrettably, these situations do happen with little or no notice so it is important to ensure that your travel organiser can provide sufficient evidence of security for the refunding and repatriation of customers in the event of insolvency. We are all used to Kite marks and Corgi approved engineers to provide a level of consumer protection in our everyday life but what about when we go on holiday? So who or what is out there? Some insurers offer Passenger Protection Insurance sold separately or part of a travel insurance policy but always check the small print if this is offered because these are quite often restrictive in their cover. You can reduce the risk further by organising your travel through tour operators and agents covered by ATOL or who hold bonding through an approved body, such as ABTA or AITO. What is ATOL? This stands for Air Travel Organiser’s licensing and is a protection scheme for flights and air holidays, managed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and protects the customer from losing money or being stranded abroad when a tour operator goes bust. All licensed firms have to lodge bonds with the CAA so that, if they go out of business, the CAA can give refunds to people who can’t travel and arrange for people abroad to finish their holidays and fly home. And ABTA? Members of the Association of British Travel Agents are required to provide financial protection for their customers which means that you can book your holiday knowing that if an ABTA member fails financially while you are on holiday, you can continue your holiday as planned. If your holiday has not started, then you will receive a full refund or be given help to make alternative arrangements for the trip to proceed. Likewise AITO, or Association of Independent Tour Operators to give it its full title, require their members to protect their customer’s money in the event of an AITO member going into liquidation. This article is brought to you by Travelandinsure.com – specialist in ethical travel insurance.

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