David Martin: Scots tourists deserve protection

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For most of us, our holiday comes after months of saving, hard work and the tension of juggling the combined requirements of home and occupation. What could then be worse than to have this break ruined by a combination of bad luck and unfair practices?

One of the main purposes of the European Parliament is to secure better consumer rights for European Union (EU) citizens. Thanks to legislation at EU level, holidaymakers from Scotland – and citizens throughout the EU – who buy package holidays will be given stronger rights.

Labour members of the European Parliament have just voted to give greater protection to Scotland’s holidaymakers by pushing for stronger rights for people who buy package holiday deals.

MEPs in Strasbourg are expected to back our proposals for new consumer rights, including the ability to transfer packages to another person, cancelling a package more easily and having easier recourse to compensation in the event of insolvency.

If the Labour-backed proposals secure the support of the European Parliament they will then be put to ministers from the 28 member state governments, whose support, in the Council of Ministers, will be needed for the requirements to become law.

Under these sweeping proposals organisers of package holidays will also be responsible for the performance of all the travel services included in the package – such as flights, hotels and car hire – and in cases where the holiday is not as stated in the contract then the organiser will be obliged to provide assistance and made, by law, to supply alternative arrangements.

We will vote to close loopholes and give consumers more rights in the event that their holidays are disrupted, clarifying rules and making clear to travel companies their duty of care to holidaymakers.

There will also be more rights for people who book holidays through a linked booking process – where passengers purchase third party hotels and car hire while booking flights.

In these cases, consumers will now be told exactly which company is responsible if something goes wrong, bringing greater clarity which in many cases is currently lacking.

This week’s vote in Strasbourg is the latest example of MEPs working to further consumer rights across Europe, and follows last month’s European Parliament vote backing more rights for air passengers.

In February, Labour MEPs voted for stronger rights for air passengers. These include new rights for passengers who have been denied boarding, been subject to long delays, or have misspelt names on their tickets, and legislation to stop airlines avoiding paying compensation for delays by claiming the problem was outside their control.

David Martin is a Labour Party MEP for Scotland