Make sure holiday is secure

HOLIDAY bookings nationally are down 20 per cent following the September 11 disaster – but many people are expected to make impulse buys now to fly abroad to find some sunshine.

HOLIDAY bookings nationally are down 20 per cent following the September 11 disaster – but many people are expected to make impulse buys now to fly abroad to find some sunshine.

With this in mind, Suffolk's Trading Standards department has just carried out a survey and discovered that some travel agents would not be able to compensate customers if they went out of business.

It is taking action against three companies which, the council says, did not have adequate financial backing.

A spokesman said: ''With Wimbledon over, the World Cup almost forgotten and the long-term weather forecast looking gloomy, more local people are jetting off on last minute breaks, booked through the internet, teletext or the small ads.


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''Holidays are one of the most expensive outlays we make each year and are often booked from a one line advertisement. In a recent survey, Trading Standards found that in the past five years at least eleven travel companies based in Suffolk have stopped trading, while ten new holiday firms are up and running.

''With a seemingly rapid turnover of firms, plus the growth of online holiday booking, holidaymakers should take care when they book.

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''The same survey found that out of nineteen local firms based in the county, three did not have adequate financial backing to safeguard customer money should the firm go out of business. Those companies were breaking the law and appropriate action is being taken against them.''

The council says that holidaymakers should ask some essential questions before they book. They include:

n What financial security does the company have, e.g. insurance or Air Travel Organisers Licence?

n What protection is there if the company stops trading?

n Have you heard of the firm or have you, or anyone you know, dealt with them before?

n What contact points are there for the company?

n Do you know what the package includes in terms of accommodation, travel and other facilities?

n Is a 'seven night holiday' really seven nights or does that include time spent travelling and to ask if you can pay by credit card so there is some extra financial protection if anything goes wrong.

Holidaymakers are also advised to take their holiday details with them to compare with what they find at their destination, and immediately alert company representatives of any complaints. Photographic evidence of a problem and the views of other people are useful.

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