THE country’s travel agents’ association is calling on the Government to introduce new laws to protect consumers after online travel site Lowcostholidays went bust.
The holiday plans of more than 15,000 Irish people have been disrupted after the online travel website closed on Friday afternoon.
It now means that people currently on holidays will be forced to pay for their hotel again – or be forced out – despite having already paid Lowcostholidays for the accommodation.
Customers who have already booked their holidays for the coming weeks and months will also be told their accommodation has been cancelled.
Although all confirmed flight tickets will remain valid, some holidaymakers who used the online agent to reserve their accommodation will be at a loss.
For those who booked packages online with Lowcostholidays, their reservation will be covered by the Commission for Aviation Regulation and the body will release details today on how people can make a claim.
However, holidaymakers who booked accommodation only with the site will have to fork out the total amount again – and then attempt to get their money back from their bank or credit card company.
The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITTA) has branded Ireland’s travel laws as “historic and pre-internet age”, and has called on the Government to address the issue immediately.
“Every time we speak to a new minister, they say they will look at it, but they never do,” ITTA president Pat Dawson told the Irish Independent last night.
“They have no interest in bringing forward legislation.
“Our travel legislation is outdated, it’s well over 30 years since it was introduced.”
Mr Dawson said they have requested a meeting with new Transport Minister Shane Ross, although they have not yet received a response from his office.
The head of Irish travel agents has now called for an investigation into how the company went bust in the middle of the peak holiday season.
“The maximum amount of money was paid to them over the last number of weeks. It was scurrilous they were still taking money on Friday. It’s totally unacceptable,” he added.
Shauna Lee, from Blanchardstown, Dublin, said last night that she paid Lowcostholidays more than €2,200 for her dream holiday – just two hours before they went bust.
She said: “We’re devastated and we don’t know if we will be able to go on holidays anymore.”