On the 15th of July 2016, Travel Company - LowCostHolidays.com ‘went-under’ and as of 4th January 2017, Cruise Company - All Leisure Holidays stopped trading. As it stands, 400 people are due for repatriation and a further 7000 customers have had their future holidays cancelled are due a full refund.
What is ATOL and why do I care?
ATOL is the protection that holiday companies use to secure against failure. The fund has been in place since the early 1970’s and is designed to protect passengers if their travel company/provider were to fail. Passengers are repatriated back to their home nation at the cost of the monies the travel agency have paid in.
The scheme is also backed by the UK Government and if you happen to have booked your holiday through your VISA card company, chances are their insurance would cover you too.
How do I know I’m ATOL protected?
This statement from the CAA makes clear the protections in place for cruise ship holiday-makers.
Cruise holidays involving flights must be ATOL protected, when sold in the UK. Customers who booked holidays involving flights through Voyages of Discovery and Swan Hellenic should have received an ATOL certificate when they made their booking. Cruise trips not involving flights are not protected by ATOL, but may be protected by ABTA.
Andy Cohen, Head of ATOL at the CAA, said this of the recent All Leisure Holidays collapse:
“We understand this will be concerning news for anyone who has booked to travel with the company. However, the ATOL scheme exists for exactly this kind of situation and we are making immediate arrangements so all ATOL protected customers can claim full refunds as quickly as possible.
We are also arranging for people currently overseas to get back home to the UK at no extra cost - meaning no-one will be left stranded abroad.”
Many holiday companies provide their customers with an ATOL certificate. If you have one, take it away with you and keep it safe with all your other important documentation.
Does my Holiday Provider have ATOL/ABTA Protection?
If they do, they’ll have a unique licence number, beginning with a ‘T’ and four or five digits long. They’ll also have a logo and would likely showcase it on their website and in branch. If you don’t know whether they’re protected, just contact the CAA and ask.
So, what’s ABTA and do I need that too?
ABTA is very similar to ATOL. Whether your holiday company is a member of ATOL or ABTA matter little, but they MUST belong to one or the other. ABTA allows you to claim your holiday costs back.