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CONSUMERS TO GET MORE INFORMATION ON PACKAGE HOLIDAY COMPANIES

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Consumers will find out exactly who they are doing business with when ...
Consumers will find out exactly who they are doing business with when

they book their package holiday, thanks to an Order requiring tour

operators and travel agents to display details of ownership in shops,

brochures, stationery and advertising material.

The Order was made under the Fair Trading Act 1973 by competition and

consumer affairs minister Kim Howells. Commenting on the benefits

the Order will bring to consumers, he said:

'Consumers need to be well informed. Well informed consumers can make

a better choice of foreign package holiday, and so are likely to be

happier with their final purchase. This Order will ensure that

consumers have more information, which in turn will sharpen

competition in the foreign package holidays market. Effectiveness of

markets depends on consumer access to reliable, accurate and easily

understandable information.

'The Order will require vertically integrated travel groups with more

than 5% of the tour operator or travel agency markets to give notice

of ownership links on the outside of their travel agency shops, on

notices inside those shops, on brochures of the group's tour

operators, on business stationery and in advertisements.

'Notices on the outside of shops are particularly important.

Consumers should have information about ownership links before they

decide which travel agents to visit. I believe that clear and

prominent notices on shop windows are an effective and proportionate

way to implement this part of the remedy. I do not regard notices on

doors as sufficiently effective. I am not requiring companies to

change shop fascias, although they can comply with the Order in this

way if they wish.

'The Order will come into force on 9 October. I will be asking the

Director General of Fair Trading to write to the vertically

integrated groups to ask what steps they are taking to comply with

the Order. If any response is not satisfactory, the Order gives me

the power to give statutory directions requiring action from those

concerned.'

The Order remedies the adverse finding in the 1997 Monopolies and

Mergers Commission report on the supply of foreign package holidays.

Notes

1. The Monopolies and Mergers Commission report 'Foreign Package

Holidays: A report on the supply of tour operators' services and

travel agents' services in relation to foreign package holidays' (CM

3813) was published on 19 December 1997.

2. The director general of fair trading was unable to obtain

acceptable undertakings from those companies which at the time were

vertically integrated groups with more than 5% of the tour operator

or travel agency markets: Thomson Travel Group Limited, Airtours plc,

Thomas Cook Group Limited and First Choice Holidays and Flights.

3. Under section 56 of the Fair Trading Act 1973, the secretary of

state has the power to make an order to remedy the adverse effects

identified by the Competition Commission in a monopoly report.

4. Copies of the Foreign Package Holidays (Tour Operators and Travel

Agents) Order 2000 will be available from the Stationery Office.

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