Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Review of the European Timeshare Directive

The Timeshare Directive was adopted in 1994 and gives timeshare buyers rights throughout the European Union. It applies to any timeshare contract made under the law of an EU country or where the property is in the European Economic Area (EEA). All Member States have implemented the directive into their national law.
A public consultation on the review of the Directive was launched on June 1st 2006. In addition to the question of the extension of the scope of the Directive, other issues are raised; e.g. the length of the cooling-off period, updating the list of information requirements, financial and professional requirements, the ban on advance payments and criminal sanctions for infringements. Submissions to DG SANCO's Consultation Document on the Review of the Timeshare Directive can be found here.

Monday, October 30, 2006

New EU security rules at airports

To protect passengers against the threat of liquid explosives, the European Union has adopted new security rules that restrict the amount of liquids that one can take through security checkpoints.The new rules apply from Monday, 6 November 2006 at all airports in the EU and in Norway, Iceland and Switzerland until further notice.
Details can be downloaded as pdf guide here.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Choice of Law and Forum - The Red Seal Experience

1. Red Seal is an Ontario (Canada) tour operator. 2. It entered into three "Guarantee Contracts" with the Ontario-based representative of six Caribbean hotels. The Guarantee Contracts dealt with general issues such as no black-out periods, no bumping of Red Seal pax, no better terms to a Red Seal competitor, etc. None of these Guarantee Contracts contained a choice of law or a choice of forum clause. 3. After the first two of them were signed, Red Seal entered into a separate "Operating Contract" (i.e. for specific space on particular dates) with each of the six Caribbean hotels. Each specified that the law of Florida and the Courts of Aruba would apply. 4. Disputes arose, and Red Seal sued the Ontario "rep" company in the Courts of Ontario. 5. That company sought to oust Ontario law and Courts, and bounce the case to Aruba pursuant to Florida law, based on the terms of the Operating Contracts. 6. In a mid-September decision, the Ontario Courts ruled that one of the disputes involved site-specific issues and thus was governed by the relevant Operating Contract. Florida/Aruba applied to it. 7. But it ruled that the balance of the disputes related to the subject matter of the Guarantee Contracts. The Florida/Aruba provisions of the Operating Contracts were thus irrelevant. As the Guarantee Contract was silent re courts and law, the Ontario Court was free to determine (as it did) that there was a sufficient nexus with Ontario to allow Red Seal to maintain those actions in the Ontario courts.

(Originally posted by Doug Crozier)

Monday, October 23, 2006

First Mercosur Tourism Law Congress

First Mercosur Tourism Law Congress: Radisson Hotel, Montevideo, 9-10 November 2006 Tourism advocates of Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Chile, Mexico, Spain, Venezuela and Bolivia. Further information: www.fcu.com.uy

(Originally posted by Diego Benítez)

USA: New 'e-passports'

A new generation of United States passports, equipped with short-range radio tags, are beiing distributed . More than 15 million Americans are expected to apply for and receive the high-tech document in the next year. Within a decade, every US passport will contain an RFID (radio frequency identification) chip.
Privacy advocates are raising concerns that the passports make Americans more vulnerable to attacks from thieves and terrorists.
For details look here.

Ancient Thai city destroyed

Officials in Thailand say three months of flooding have turned the foundations of the ancient city of Wiang Kum Kam into mud. Wiang Kum Kam was originally founded around 1286 by King Meng Rai and became the capital of the Lanna kingdom before flooding forced the ruler to move his capital to Chiang Mai. The city was unearthed in 1984 and was opened in 2004 as a tourist attraction
Further information here.

Friday, October 20, 2006

New adventure tourism operators law in Western Australia

The Western Australia government has imposed new strict standards for adventure tourism operators, in a move to protect tourists following some near tragedies in the state's wilderness areas.
Under the new legislation, accreditation will be compulsory for all adventure tourism operators. Details here.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Europe's largest national park to be established in Iceland

Iceland's government announced a plan to build what the prime minister referred to as soon-to-be Europe's largest national park.
The establishment of Vatnajokull national park is the largest nature protection project in Iceland to date. The national park will not only provide a platform for protection of the unique nature of the area, but also create new opportunities in tourism in the vicinity of the park and thus strengthen habitation along the outskirts of Vatnajokull glacier.
The Ministry of Environment, in 2002, began negotiations with farmers living next to the glacier to establish a nature reserve. The negotiations did not materialize as land ownership issues delayed the process. The plan to include the entire glacier as well is more recent.
Icelandic nature continues to be the main attraction for foreign visitors to the country, according to annual research done by the Icelandic Tourist Board. Therefore, it is important for the tourism industry that steps are taken to protect it. The establishment of Vatnajokull national park would mean that Iceland will have the largest protected wilderness in Europe.
The establishment of Vatnajokull national park would also mean that glacier river Jokulsa a Fjollum will not be harnessed for the production of electricity. This issue is of great concern for nature conservationists.
More details here.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Hospitality Loss Prevention Conference: Boston, the 6th December

New airline tax for health care to poor countries

Nineteen states including include Brazil, Britain, Chile, Cambodia, Cameroon, Congo, Cyprus, France, Gabon, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Norway and South Korea are committed to levying a tax on airline tickets as part of a new way to treat people in poor countries for AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria under a program called UNITAID which brings together countries, U.N. agencies, international organizations and others to tackle some of the world's worst diseases. UNITAID plans initially to spend €50 million (US$63 million) this year and about €300 million next year to give 100,000 children access to anti-retroviral treatment and 150,000 children treatment against tuberculosis.
Further details here.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

EUTO convention in Malta

During the last week of October, the Malta Tourism Society will be hosting delegates from the European Union of Tourism Officers (EUTO) to a convention and study visit. This annual event is part funded through the Leonardo da Vinci mobility initiatives which promote cultural and educational exchange across Europe.
Themed Developing Sustainable Tourism Reviving the Past to Build the Future, an exchange of best practice, this year s convention and study visit will take place between October 22 to 29. The focus will be on creating a unique experience for visitors to the island by capitalizing on all the possible cultural, social and historical resources which these small islands can offer. A number of local and international speakers are being invited to contribute to the convention and also to the study visits included in the program.
The convention will be addressed by the Maltese Tourism and Culture Minister Francis Zammit Dimech on October 23.
EUTO is an organization that fosters trans-national networking between all European middle and top managers principally engaged in the work of tourism promotion and development. Further details to be found here.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Misleading airline advertising

Airlines continue to engage in misleading price advertising. (See my paper at the 17th IFTTA Conference 2005, available at http://www.iftta.org/web/2005AirAdEUIrsh.html). Among other things and according to the website of the Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (http://www.asai.ie/) airlines continue to be in breach of the advertising industry’s own code of advertising by - claiming that emails sent to consumer subscribers who have indicated they wish to receive special offers etc are not subject to the Code (Ref AC/0605/0505; AC/0502/0122) - claiming that the term ‘Free’ can be used although the consumer still has to pay taxes, charges (AC/0512/1384) - claiming that taxes, charges etc. do not have to be included in the advertised air fare (Ref GM/0602/0219). (References traceable through http://www.asai.ie/)
Perhaps the most significant recent development concerns the attempt by the advertising industry self-regulator to bring clarity to the vexed question of how many seats an airline should make available when it advertises a low fare. Rule 2.44 of the Irish Code in insists in effect that the supply must be in reasonable proportion to the demand. This is a vague rule and heretofore airlines have been left free to interpret it themselves.
In a recent case (AC/0504/0310) an airline sought advice in advance from the self regulator on this point and was told such advice was not given. When the airline then provided only 4% of its seats at the advertised low fare complaints were made that the advertisement was misleading. The self regulator rejected the complaint apparently because the airline had tried to seek guidance. But more importantly the self regulator also stated: ‘Going forward and in order to provide clarity for advertisers, the Committee considered that at least 10% of tickets should be available at the lead in price.’ The choice of 10% is not explained. At first glance it is difficult to see how anyone could say that 10% is a reasonable figure. One might have thought of a figure of at least 50% if not higher.
However, the self regulator presumably chose the figure of 10% to reflect the interests of all parties, including airlines and the fact that consumers can be expected to realise an airline could not be expected to sell a lot of its seats at low fares.
From a purely legal point of view, whether 4% or 10% or some other figure complies with the present or future law banning misleading price advertising depends on European Community law and how the criterion of meaning (the average person) interprets the advertisement.
The recent EC Directive 2005/29 on unfair commercial practices (to be implemented by end-2007) contains an equivalent requirement that airlines provide seats in reasonable proportion to an advertisement of low air fares. Point 5 of the blacklist in the Annex includes among practises to be banned: ‘Making an invitation to purchase products at a specified price without disclosing the existence of any reasonable grounds the trader may have for believing that he will not be able to offer for supply … those products … at that price for a period that is, and in quantities that are, reasonable having regard to the product, the scale of advertising of the product and the price offered (bait advertising).’
This Directive also makes clear that the criterion of meaning is the careful reader of advertisements, not the hasty one. One can therefore expect a judge to say a careful reader will be aware that airlines cannot commercially operate flights if all seats are sold at the advertised low fare and that consumers surely understand this. But the judge may equally consider that consumers also know low fares do not prevent airlines from making a profit.
Given that airlines now have the technology to change fares very quickly and increase the fares if they wish, it may be that the figure of 10% is much too low.

(Originally posted by Marc Mc Donald)

No Deal on Passenger Data Transmission to US Authorities

The United States and the European Union failed to reach a new deal on sharing air passenger data before a Saturday deadline. Reaching an agreement before the deadline was an EU priority to ensure that airlines could continue to legally submit data about passengers flying from Europe to the United States. These data - including credit card details - must be transferred to the U.S. authorities within 15 minutes of a flight's departure to the U.S.. The European Court of Justice, in May ruled that the deal, put in place after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was illegal because it had not used the correct basis in EU law. However, court allowed the data to keep flowing until Saturday to give officials time to negotiate a new agreement. Washington has warned that airlines failing to share the data will face fines and the loss of U.S. landing rights. Without the deal, airlines that provide the data to the U.S. authorities could face legal action from the national data protection authorities in EU states. Officials said negotiations would continue. Source: http://www.travelindustryreview.com/news/3215.

(Originally posted by Michael Wukoschitz)

Compensation and assistance to air passengers

Article 16 of EC Regulation 261/2004 on confers increased protections on most air passengers flying into or out of Community airports for delay caused by denied boarding, cancellation or long delay. Article 16 requires member states to ‘designate a body responsible for the enforcement of this Regulation … Where appropriate, this body shall take the measures necessary to ensure that the rights of passengers are respected.’ Given that the consumer rights are intended to deal with the immediate effects of flight delays, Article 16 might be understood as meaning that certainly in larger airports the ‘enforcer’ should actually be located in the airport so as to be able to receive, respond and intervene on behalf of air passengers with airlines.
However, the Irish government has not taken this view and has designated a state aviation body (the Commission for Aviation Regulation, rather than the consumer protection body) whose offices are based in downtown Dublin, as the enforcer. The public has been informed of this by the same newspaper and website notice http://www.aviationreg.ie/rights/notices.htm which says passengers may complain in writing or electronically to the city centre address. Fax will also be accepted.
Does the failure to locate the enforcer at a busy airport like Dublin amount to a failure to implement Article 16?

(Originally posted by Marc Mc Donald)

The Great Barrier Reef will not be closed to tourism

Responding to a recent report related to several world heritage sites being taken off the tourism map, the Queensland Tourism Industry Council has rejected the opinion that suggests closing off most of the Great Barrier Reef to tourism.
According to The Courier Mail in Australia, coral reef expert Terry Hughes, the Great Barrier Reef was a big place and the tourism industry had little impact. Source: http://travelwirenews.com/eTN/02OCT2006.htm