Thursday, February 28, 2008

"VAT: Commission takes steps against 8 Member States as regards the application of the travel agents' scheme"

As just stated by the EU Press Room, "The European Commission has formally requested Poland, the Netherlands, Portugal, France, Italy, Finland, Greece and the Czech Republic to amend their legislation with regard to the application of the special VAT 'margin' scheme for travel agents. The request is in the form of a reasoned opinion which is the second stage of the infringement proceedings provided for in Article 226 of the Treaty. If these Member States fail to comply with the reasoned opinion within two months, the Commission may refer the matter to the Court of Justice of the European Communities."

This Press Release is available in full text.

"VNAT changes cards to oversee tour guides' qualifications"

According to the VietNamNet Bridge, "All 10,000 tour guides in the country will have to apply for new professional certificates in the next quarter in a drive by Vietnam's tourism authority to closely monitor the qualifications of the workforce, an official said.
Vu The Binh, head of the travel department under the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism, told the Daily on Tuesday that the ministry would issue a circular guiding the implementation of the Tourism Law, which requires all tour guides to apply for new professional cards in the second quarter of this year. 'We will issue the circular later this quarter, and all tour guides across the country will change or receive new electronic cards in the second quarter,' he said." Read more>>

Monday, February 25, 2008

"Tourism in the EU27: Nights spent in hotels rose by 3.1% in 2007"

As stated by the EU Press Room, "In 2007, 1 578 million nights were spent in hotels and similar establishments in the EU27, which is an increase of 3.1% compared with 2006. Hotel nights spent by residents in their own country increased by 3.6% to 856 million, while for non-residents hotel nights rose by 2.4% to 722 million. For comparison, the growth rate of total nights spent in hotels in the EU27 was 4.3% in 2006 and 4.6% in 2005."

This Press Release is available in full text.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

"Beware of travel agents"

As reported by Kang Bing, at the China Daily, "Want to go on a trip? The most convenient way seems to be joining a packaged tour. You scan the advertisements, find a good bargain, sign a contract with a travel agent, and all the while not knowing you might be falling into a trap.
Better living standards have led to a prosperous travel market in this country. So attractive is the industry that travel agencies have sprung up like mushrooms. The latest statistics are not yet available, but the 2004 figure showed there were 13,467 travel agencies in China, double the figure at the turn of the century.
When you have to choose someone you can trust from such a sea of travel agents, you can bet you are stepping into a risky business." Read more>>

Friday, February 22, 2008

Uganda: Parliament passes new tourism law

Parliament has passed the Uganda Tourism Bill 2007 into law. The new law that was passed on Tuesday will govern tourism activities in the country.
An excited state minister for tourism Serapio Rukundo said it would accelerate the development of the sector. The law, he noted, was good because it was friendly to the private sector that drives tourism.
The law sets standards, provides for licensing, regulating and controlling the tourism sector. It will give effect to the implementation of the Tourism Policy 2003 and reconstitute the Uganda Tourist Board to make it private sector-driven. A tourism development levy will be charged to establish a Tourism Development Fund.

Source: eTurboNews; read full article here.

Austria: Operator of a Discotheque not Liable for slippery Wet Dancing Floor

In a recenty published decision (2 Ob 87/07v of 15. Nov. 2007) Austrian Supreme Court (OGH) confirmed the lower instances' view that the operator of a discotheque has no obligation to constantly check the dancing floor for wet or slippery spots or pieces of broken glass.
Plaintiff was injured when falling on a piece of broken glass after slipping on the wet dancing floor. OGH held that it was an obvious risk that visitors may break glasses and pour liquids on the dancing floor; it was therefore up to each visitor to exercise reasonable care. OGH upheld the lower instances' decisons and dismissed plaintiff's appeal.

Decision in German language available here.

UK: Air Transport Users Council (AUC) published Delayed Baggage Table for 2007

The Air Transport Users Council (AUC) calling themselves "the UK's consumer watchdog for the aviation industry" published a table on the baggage handling performance of the member airlines of the Association of European Airlines (AEA) for 2007.
According to the airlines’ own data, an average of 16.6 bags per thousand passengers were delayed on flights operated by the major European network airlines in 2007. This compares to 15.7 bags per thousand passengers for 2006. It is notable that those AEA airlines that tend to operate connecting flights through “hub” airports come out worst. For example, Air France, KLM and British Airways all take up places in the top five poorest performers for 2007. This is borne out by industry research, which, according to the AEA, shows that 61% of baggage incidences are related to connecting passengers.

Source: Air Transport Users Council Press Notice (including table).

Thursday, February 21, 2008

"Commission launches dialogue with Montenegro on visa free travel"

According to the EU Press Room, "European Commission Vice President Franco Frattini, in charge of Justice, Freedom and Security, launched a dialogue on visa free travel with Montenegro in Podgorica today. The aim of this dialogue is to give clear indications to the authorities of Montenegro on the measures that need to be taken to grant visa free travel to all citizens of the country. 'This is a tangible and concrete proof of the EU's commitment to Montenegro's European future', said Vice President Frattini at the opening ceremony of the dialogue on visa free travel.
Since 1 January 2008, Montenegrin citizens enjoy the benefits of a visa facilitation agreement with the European Union. This agreement provides for easier access to visas for a broad range of categories of citizens ranging from students, sportsmen and women, cultural workers, journalists, people visiting family members living in the EU, people in need of medical treatment to economic operators working with EU companies."

This Press Release is available in full text.

Climate Change: Due to New Study Road Traffic Pollutes Worse Than Aviation

A new study carried out by Norwegian researchers at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research (CICERO) of Oslo Univerity reveals that road traffic is the worst offender. It causes more greenhouse gas emissions than aviation, which is the second-largest pollutor. By contrast, shipping has a cooling effect.
Aviation is second in the research because the researchers opted for a historical approach. The historical contribution from aviation emissions to global warming is more than doubled by the contribution from road emissions. “Over the next 100 years, today’s road emissions will have a climate effect that is four times higher than the climate effect from today’s aviation emissions”, the researchers say.

Source:; find full article here.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

"Tourism chief wants travel tax scrapped"

As reported by Veronica Uy, at the Inquirer, "The travel tax imposed on Filipinos traveling abroad should be abolished as it 'dampens' their mobility, Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace Durano said Friday.
At the opening of the 15th Travel Tour Expo, which had 170 exhibitors from 23 countries at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, Durano said: 'I support the abolition of [the] travel tax and let us find a sustainable source to fund the tourism sector.'
The travel tax ranges from P300 to P2,700, depending on one’s job and airline seat classification. Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their dependents are among those who get special rates." Read more>>

Cohen Milstein Lands $200 Million BA-Virgin Settlement

Class action giant Cohen Milstein Hausfeld & Toll has won a landmark victory in the U.S. courts after securing a $200 million settlement from British Airways and Virgin in relation to price-fixing, it was announced Friday. The settlement will see $144 million put aside for just over five million U.K. residents who will have until 2012 to claim up to £20 ($39) for a return flight after both airlines admitted to price-fixing fuel surcharges on flights between August 2004 to March 2006. Under the arrangement -- the first-ever transatlantic recovery -- the airlines will also pay out $59 million to U.S. passengers over the price-fixing charges. See full story at LegalWeek

Friday, February 15, 2008

Austria: Parents not bound to check hotel facilities for possible sources of danger to their children

A nine year old girl was injured in a "familiy hotel" when running against a glass door which due to lightning conditions was hardly visible when shut and not made of safety glass. She successfully claimed for compensation for pain and suffering against the tour operator. Court held that even when her mother had been negligent by not warning her daughter of the dangers of the glass door, this could not be attributed to the claimant as contributory negligence.
Following this decision the tour operator's insurer claimed back half of the compensation paid to the girl from her mother, arguing that due to the judgement she had contributed to the accident at fault. Reasonings of the jugdement against the tour operator were binding for her as she had been given third party notice.
Austrian Supreme Court (OGH) at the contrary held that there was no binding character of the specific reason as it had not been relevant for the decision against the tour operator. There was no negligence of the mother as parents were not bound to check hotel for any possible source of danger to their children.

OGH 11.12.2007, 4 Ob 211/07v; decision available in German here.

European Union: ECJ ruled against Greece in airline case

Greece failed to comply with a European Commission decision that aid to Greek carrier Olympic Airlines was illegal and should be recovered, ECJ ruled on Thursday.
A first decision of 11 December 2002 declared incompatible with the common market restructuring aid approved during the course of 1994, 1998 and 2000. Greece was asked to recover part of that aid, amounting to EUR 41 million. Since that decision was not implemented, the Court of Justice of the European Communities declared the action for failure to fulfil obligations to be well founded.
By a second decision of 14 September 2005, at issue in the present case, the Commission considered to be State aid, first, the restructuring of Olympic Airways as such, as well as the granting of financial assistance and the receipt, by that company, of other financial support; second, the receipt, by Olympic Airlines, of various forms of subsidies. These included rental payments for the sub-leasing of aircraft (approximately EUR 40 million), overvaluation of assets at the time the new company was created (approximately EUR 91.5 million), payment by the Greek State, instead of Olympic Airways, of certain bank loans and leases (EUR 8 million) and,finally, the continuous forbearance displayed by the Greek State towards Olympic Airways with regard to taxes and social security contributions (EUR 354 million). As set out in the decision, Greece was under an obligation to recover the various aids without delay, to immediately suspend the granting of any additional aid to Olympic Airways and Olympic Airlines and to inform the Commission of measures taken.
In the present action, Greece submitted, first, that the Commission had failed to provide a reliable method of calculation to make determination possible of the aid amounts to be recovered. Secondly, Greece challenged the validity of the decision.
The Court held, first of all, that Greece had not fulfilled its obligations, either by the end of the time period laid down by the Commission or by the date on which the present action was brought. In addition, Greece has not relied on any absolute impossibility to implement the decision.

Source: ECJ press release No 9/08 of 14. Feb. 2008

"The Commission adopts recommendations to open negotiations for short stay visa waiver agreements with six countries"

As stated by the EU Press Room, "The Commission made today the first step towards the conclusion of short stay visa waiver agreements between the European Community and six third countries: Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Mauritius, Saint Kitts and Nevis and the Seychelles. The recommendations to authorise the Commission to open negotiations are to be submitted to the Council.
'The Commission intends to open the negotiations on the visa waiver with the six countries as soon as the negotiating directives will be approved by the Council, thus providing for the full implementation of the existing legal framework', stated Vice-President Franco Frattini, Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security."

This Press Release is available in full text.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

UK: Britain cuts visa price for Chinese tourists

Britain will cut the price of its group tourist visas for Chinese travelers by almost a third for three months from March 3, said the British Ambassador to China Sir William Ehrman on Wednesday.
The price would fall from 63 pounds (980 yuan) to 44 pounds (660 yuan) and a final decision on whether the reduction should be permanent would be made at the end of the trial period, said Ehrman.
China was the first country to carry out the trial reduction, said Ehrman, adding it was aimed at promoting tourism.

Source: eTurboNews; read full article here.

European Union: Good news for claimants injured in road traffic accidents

In a recent decision (C-463/06 of 13. December 2007) European Court of Justice held that an injured party in a road traffic accident may bring an action directly against the insurer before the courts for the place in a Member State where that injured party is domiciled, provided that such a direct action is permitted and the insurer is domiciled in a Member State. ECJ came to this conclusion due to a purposive or “teleological” interpretation of the Jurisdiction Regulation (EC 44/2001).
Travelers within the EU injured in a road traffic accident in another member state may therefore sue "back home" provided that their national law permits direct action against the insurer and the latter is domiciled in an EU member state.

Source: ECJ Press Release No 92/07.

"Air transport: Commission takes note of today's Court judgment in the Olympic file"

According to the EU Press Room, "The Court of Justice today confirmed that Greece has failed to comply with a Commission decision adopted in 2005 finding that it had granted illegal and incompatible aid to Olympic Airways Services and Olympic Airlines, and asking for such aid to be recovered.
Vice-President Jacques Barrot, Commissioner in charge of transport, said in a statement: 'I take note of this ruling, which follows several rulings by the European Courts and decisions by the Commission in this dossier. It confirms the urgent need for a viable and legally sound solution to this file. This is in the interest of the European aviation sector, of Greek consumers and tax-payers, but also of the employees of Olympic Airways Services and Olympic Airlines and is indispensable in order to preserve a continuity of service to remote areas in Greece. Should it be the case that swift compliance is not achieved, I would have no choice but to propose to the College to file a new action with the Court of Justice, asking for the imposition of fines and periodic penalty payments.'."

This Press Release is available in full text.

India court in moustache notice

India's Supreme Court has issued a notice to a state-run airline asking it to explain why an air steward was sacked for wearing a big moustache.

Victor Joynath De was grounded by Indian - formerly called Indian Airlines- in 2001 for refusing to shave off his handlebar moustache. He had earlier lost a case in a lower court which ruled that the airline was within its rights to sack him.
According to Indian rules, all crew members should be clean shaven. A moustache, if worn, should not extend beyond the upper lip, says the rule book. The guidelines do not apply to Sikh employees who are allowed to keep moustaches.
"How can somebody be removed from a job because of the size of his moustache?" the Supreme Court bench comprising Justice HK Sema and Justice Markanday Katju asked on Monday. The airline has been given four weeks to respond.

Source:; read full article here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Space Tourism faces challenges from insurance companies

The personal spaceflight business — also known as space tourism — will face high hurdles from the insurance business in its early years, according to several industry experts.
Policy costs will be extremely high until companies fly without incident at least three times. And a string of early failures may well doom startups to business failure, one of three insurance experts on a panel about the subject said during a panel discussion at the Federal Aviation Administration's annual Commercial Space Transportation Conference.

Source:; read full article here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

USA: legal restraints against foreign-flagged cruise ships?

Federal officials are working to finish a proposed rule that threatens to dramatically alter the itineraries of many foreign-flagged cruise ships, such as those operated by Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean and others, by requiring much longer port stays.
The proposed change would require 48-hour stays, instead of the usual four- to 12-hour visits, at foreign ports of call, possibly reducing the number of stops during trips of a week or less.
It is aimed at helping the U.S.-flagged ships operated by Norwegian Cruise Lines America on Hawaiian cruises compete with foreign-flagged cruise lines sailing from California. Almost all cruise ships operating from U.S. ports are registered in foreign nations to avoid the cost of meeting U.S. labor, health, safety and environmental standards.
But the impact could have much broader implications, imperiling cruises from U.S. ports to Alaska, Canada, New England and some to the Caribbean, according to critics.
Cruise vacationers may find companies offering more limited itineraries and fewer three and four day trips.
Source:; read full article here.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

"Medical tourism needs a thorough checkup, critics say"

As reported by Christopher Bodeen and Alan Scher Zagier at The Wenatchee World Online, "BEIJING — They're paralyzed from diving accidents and car crashes, disabled by Parkinson's, or blind. With few options available at home in America, they search the Internet for experimental treatments — and often land on Web sites promoting stem cell treatments in China.
They mortgage their houses and their hometowns hold fundraisers as they scrape together the tens of thousands of dollars needed for travel and the hope for a miracle cure.
Some of these medical tourists claim some success when they return home: Jim Savage, a Houston man with paralysis from a spinal-cord injury, says he can move his right arm. Penny Thomas of Hawaii says her Parkinson's tremors are mostly gone. The parents of 6-year-old Rylea Barlett of Missouri, born with an optical defect, say she can see.
But documentation is mostly lacking, and Western doctors warn that patients are serving as guinea pigs in countries that aren't doing the rigorous lab and human tests that are needed to prove a treatment is safe and effective" Read more>>

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Sweden: airline offers fingerprint check-In for domestic flights

No ID? No problem. In Sweden, all the identification you need to board an airplane is now at your fingertips—literally. Scandinavian Airlines Sweden (SAS) now allows travelers with luggage to board domestic flights by providing a scan of their index fingerprint.
The system is designed to address a European Union aviation security regulation requiring passengers who check baggage for a flight to be matched with their bags again when they board the plane. Passengers who opt to use the new biometric check-in system will scan their index finger as they drop off their baggage, and again at the gate. The two fingerprints are compared to confirm a passenger's identity, and no other ID is required.

Source: eTurboNews; read full article here.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Netherlands: Airline association to take Dutch government to court over environment tax

The Board of Airline Representatives in the Netherlands (Barin) is taking the Dutch government to court to challenge the environmental tax set to take effect July 1, an Air France-KLM spokesperson told Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad.
The court case is expected to begin March 5, with Schiphol Group perhaps also slated to join, the report said.
The Dutch government decided last year to put a environmental tax on airline tickets: 11.25 eur per flight for European destinations less than 2,500 km, and 45 eur for longer flights.

The Netherlands is the only European country to have such a tax, the paper said.

Source: etourbonews

Friday, February 01, 2008

European Union: Summary of the responses to the consultation on the Council Directive 90/314/EEC

The commission published a summary on the basis of the contributions to the Working document that was published on the SANCO web page in July 2007. All replies sent in until mid November have been considered.
65 responses were received of which 12 from Member States, 1 from an EFTA state, 29 from business stakeholders, 20 from consumers stakeholders and 3 from academics/private persons.
The Package Travel Directive is one of eight directives covered by the Review of the Consumer Acquis. Horizontal issues affecting several directives have been consulted on separately by the Green Paper on the Review of the Consumer Acquis. In the light of the outcome of the consultation on the Green Paper and the input to the consultation in this working document, the Commission will consider the need for a reform of the Directive.

Find the summary here.