Tour agents' insurance tie-in made illegal

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The Independent Online
TRAVEL AGENTS and tour operators will no longer be able to force holidaymakers to buy travel insurance if they want to take advantage of discount holiday deals, the Government announced yesterday.

Kim Howells, the Consumer Affairs Minister, has signed an order under the Fair Trading Act 1973 to stop the practice, which can lead to consumers being misled over the discounts they get on travel.

The action follows a Monopolies and Mergers Commission report last December. The MMC found that tying discounts on holidays to travel insurance allowed travel agents to advertise larger discounts and make up their profits with the hefty commissions on policy sales. As a result consumers were misled into thinking they were getting bigger discounts on holidays than they were.

The new rules will make it illegal for travel agents and tour operators to discriminate against customers over the price of a foreign holiday if they refuse holiday insurance.

The MMC also found the use of "most favoured customer" clauses led to some travel agents not offering discounts they would otherwise be prepared to offer, resulting in higher prices for consumers. "Most favoured customer" clauses form part of the agreement between a tour operator and a travel agent which require the travel agent to promote equally holidays from different tour operators. This effectively restricts the travel agent's ability to offer bigger discounts on some tour operators' holidays.

t Nearly one in six young people have sex with a new partner when they go on holiday abroad but only half of them bother to use a condom, according to a new survey.

The Health Education Authority survey of 400 people aged 18 to 32 who had just returned from a holiday abroad found that more women than men said that they never used a condom. Only 12 per cent even recognised HIV as a health issue for overseas travellers.

The HEA's campaign to educate young people on the dangers of unprotected sex will mean adverts carrying the safer sex message will be placed on charter flights to beach resorts.