Q. I booked a holiday with a tour operator which went disastrously wrong and I wish to make a complaint. How do I best go about this?
A. If you paid for transport and accommodation together then this is a “package” holiday. It must be booked in advance and sold at an inclusive price and must be for more than 24 hours or include overnight accommodation. If so, you will be assisted by the Package Travel Regulations. You should contact either ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) or AITO (Association of Independent Tour Operators) in the first instance. Depending on the circumstances you may be able to claim for the cost of your holiday as well as compensation for any illness, injury or ‘loss of enjoyment’ you suffered.
However, if you purchased transport and accommodation individually, say on the internet, you will not be covered by these regulations. If you had appropriate travel insurance this may well cover you for financial loss and reimburse you the cost of your holiday. Without insurance your best route is to complain directly to the supplier and hope they offer some recompense. If you have documentary evidence, such as photos or a video, this will help your case. In either case you cannot claim compensation you can only seek to recover your losses.
It is good practice to always consider booking through travel agents or tour operators who belong to recognised trade associations such as ABTA or AITO as their regulations protect you, not only for ruined holidays, but also if the tour operator goes out of business.