Schools are being urged to book their trips with an ABTA approved tour operator to ensure they’re supported and protected if things don’t go to plan.
ABTA revealed that nearly three quarters (73%) of UK families expect a company that organises school travel to be an ABTA Member. There are over 100 school travel organisers who are ABTA Members, giving them access to the association’s advice, 24-hour crisis support and independent complaints process.
Victoria Bacon, ABTA’s Director of Brand and Business Development, said:
“School trips provide pupils with lifelong memories and often an opportunity to explore a place they’ve never been to before.
“However, it can be a time consuming and sometimes daunting process for teachers to arrange these trips, and the new Package Travel Regulations means that if a trip is booked in a certain way, the school could be held liable should there be a problem.”
Under the Package Travel Regulations (PTRs), the travel company is responsible for sorting out any problems and ensuring that if the trip can’t go ahead, either an alternative is offered or a full refund provided. Additionally, if the travel company goes out of business before the trip starts, students will get their money back and, where the trip included transport, will be brought home at no additional cost if they are already away.
It’s also important for schools to be aware that if a school organises a trip themselves by arranging their own bookings for transport, accommodation and other services, they might be liable under the PTRs. This means that they would have all of the responsibilities of a travel company – both legal and financial.
There have been cases where school trips were cancelled and parents lost money when the trip wasn’t covered by the PTRs. Last year, students from a school in Kent lost tens of thousands of pounds raised for a package trip to Mount Kilimanjaro, when the company arranging the expedition collapsed financially.
Bacon continues: “There are lots of ABTA school travel specialist companies who can take these responsibilities off the hands of teachers and pull together a trip which provides a great education experience as well as offering the support, protection and expertise that comes with booking with an ABTA approved travel company.”