Tour Operator Licence
A person may not carry on the business of a tour operator or travel agent nor hold themselves out as carrying on such persons without a licence granted under the Transport Tour Operators and Travel Agents Act.
The Minister for Transport may grant a licence in accordance with legislation if satisfied the person complies with the requirements.The Minister must be satisfied that the person’s financial, business and organisational resources are adequate to discharge actual and potential obligations in relation to his activities and proposed activities and that having regard to its record, he she or it is a fit and proper person to conduct such business.
Enforcement & Revocation
Officers of the regulatory authority may enter premises, inspect books, examine accounts, et cetera. Fees payable in respect of the application for licence.
If a holder of a is in breach, the licence may be revoked or varied. There is a procedure for revocation or variation of a licence which requires notice to be given and reasons for the same.
The licence holder has a seven-day period in which to make representations, which must be taken into account. The refusal or revocation of a licence may be subject matter of an appeal to the High Court. The High Court may confirm or refuse the application. If it allows the licence the Minister may grant the licence for a varied licence.
If tour operator or travel agent fails to meet financial, contractual obligations or payments due, the licence may be revoked immediately.
A Tour operator before obtaining a licence must obtain a bond. The bond must provide that in the event of inability or failure of the operator or agent to meet its financial or contractual obligations to oversea travellers, a sum of money will be available to the Authority to be applied for the benefit of customers who have incurred losses or incurred liability because of failure to meet financial, contractual obligations.
It may cover, the following
- providing travel facilities for customers outside Ireland, unable to make a return journey
- reimbursement of customers of any reasonable expenses incurred by reason of inability to meet financial or contractual obligations
- refund in respect of uncompleted travel contract
- defraying reasonable expenses incurred by the regulator on behalf of a customer in respect of overseas travel contract which is uncompleted.
The legislation to establish the traveller’s protection fund form which payments may be made in respect of loss incurred by customers of tour operators and travel agents who have or had held a licence in consequence of their inability or failure to meet financial, contractual obligations. Tour operators and travel agents must make contributions to the fund in amounts determined by the regulator. Different amounts payable by different classes of business
Disbursements may be made from the fund to provide facilities, reimburse or refund customers to whom default has been made by a licensed or former licensed travel operator or agent. Payments are only made once the monies payable under the band have been exhausted.
Carrying on a business or holding oneself out as carrying on a business without the requisite licence is subject to is an offence subject on conviction on indictment to imprisonment of up to 5 years or up to€127,000.
Various other offences are created by the Act, including
- failing to cooperate with an authorised person
- giving false information.
An offence may be tried in the District Court if the judge is of the opinion that the facts are fit to be so tried the DPP consents and the defendant consents. In this event, the maximum punishment is 12 months of up to £500. [Updated by Fines act].
The Package Holidays and Travel Trade Acts derive from EU directive and provide special protection in respect of package holidays. A package holiday is one involving two of the following three elements.
- other services accounting for a significant proportion.
This package provider is the organiser for the retailer or both where the package is sold or offered by a body / party within the State. Where an organiser is outside the State, the retailer within the State is subject to the legislation.
A brochure made available by an organiser of a package tour must contain certain minimal information in legible comprehensible and accurate manner, including the price and adequate information about
- destination and means
- categories and characteristic of transport.
- details of comfort, including degree of comfort and features
- meal plan.
- passport and Visa requirements.
- health requirements
- amounts of monies due on account and timetable for payment.
- If minimum number of persons are required
- taxes and compulsory charges.
- details of the nominated agent in the state who will accept service in relation to disputes
- arrangements for security in the event of insolvency
It is an offence to supply a brochure without having reasonable cause to believe that it complies with the above requirements. The particulates in the brochure are to comprise and to have contractual effect. Breach can be the subject matter of a civil claim.
An organiser or retailer must not supply a brochure or other descriptive matter concerning a package which contains any false or misleading information. It must compensate consumers for any loss or damage occurred in consequence.
Before a contract made, the organiser either directly or through a retailer must provide intending consumer with information relating to the above categories, including in particular, details of health cover
- accident cover
- Further information is required before the start of the package, including
- times and places of transport
- place to be occupied in a sleeping compartment cabinet or berth
- details name, address and telephone number of local representative or agency
- information regarding minors
The information may be fulfilled by inclusion in a brochure or by way of information provided at the time of the contract.
Terms of the Contract
All the terms of the contract must be set out in writing in a form that is comprehensible and accessible. A written copy must be supplied to the consumer. The contract must contain certain minimum matters including
- travel destinations
- periods of stay
- relevant dates,
- means and categories of transport
- details of accommodation, level of comfort
- standard meal plan
- minimum number of persons required
- itinerary visits, excursions,
- details of organiser retailer and ensure nominated agent within the State
- schedule of payments,
- price, price revision clause
- special requirements,
- details of complaint procedures.
There are restrictions and the provisions of price variation clauses in contracts. They must be upwards and downwards and may only so is revised in limited circumstances linked to variations in underlying transport costs, taxes and exchange rates. There are further limitations in the periods in which a variation may take place.
Certain mandatory terms are implied in the contract. The consumer may withdraw without penalty, in the event of a valid price variation.
Where packages are cancelled, the Consumer is generally entitled to a replacement package or money back.
The organiser is responsible to the consumer for the proper performance of the contract, irrespective of whether obligations are to be performed by the organiser retailer or supplier of service. The organiser is liable for damages incurred by the consumer by failure to perform the contract or improper performance, unless the failure or improper performance is not due to default due to certain reasons.
There are limitations on the extent to which the organiser may limit its liability.
Authorised inspectors of the regulator have powers to enter premises, examine documents and require cooperation for the purpose of enforcement of the legislation, A package provider must provide evidence of security for the refund of monies or repatriation of customers in the event of insolvency. This is deemed to be done by making one of the below mentioned arrangements or by holding a licence under the Travel Agents, Tour Operators licence legislation.
There are provisions in relation to bond, it must be in such sums as may reasonably expected to cover all monies paid by consumers to enable consumers to be repatriated and defray expenses.
The regulator may prescribe minimum sums for the bond. The insurer is obliged to consider whether the amount of the bond is sufficient to cover the obligations top