OFT looks into package deals

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The Independent Online
The way package holidays are bought and sold is being investigated again by the Office of Fair Trading, it was announced yesterday.

Last year, the OFT spent many months looking at the holiday industry to see if consumers were getting a good choice from tour operators and travel agents before finally concluding that they were.

Now, the OFT is conducting a second investigation and once again studying the close relationship between some big holiday companies and top high street travel agents. The OFT will also look at the practice of some travel agents that insist that discounts on brochure prices can be given only if holiday-makers use the travel agent's own insurance plan.

Thomson, the UK's leading holiday company, owns the leading travel agent Lunn Poly while rival travel agent chain Going Places is owned by another giant tour operator, Airtours. Thomas Cook, another big high street name, has links with holiday company First Choice.

"We said we would have another look at the industry and we are," an OFT spokesman said. He added: "Last time we expressed some concern that consumers might not be aware of the links travel agents had with tour operators."

Meanwhile, the battle of the cross-Channel statistics hotted up again last night when Stena Sealink ferry company said it carried 138,000 cars and buses between Dover and Calais in August, which is expected to put it only just behind Eurotunnel in the holiday season rankings.