TRAVEL ARBITRATION BOARD’S GENERAL TRAVEL TERMS AND CONDITIONS
Article 1 Scope
These general terms and conditions apply to the tour operator and travel agency contracts as understood under the Belgian law of 16 February 1994 governing organised travel contracts and travel agency contracts.
Article 2 Promotion
1. Data in travel brochures is binding for the tour operators or travel agents who issued the brochure, unless:
a) travellers have been informed of changes to this data clearly, in writing and before concluding the contract; the brochure must state this explicitly;
b) there are subsequent changes in accordance with a written agreement between the parties to the contract.
2. The tour operator and/or agent can cancel its entire travel promotion or a part of it for a specific or indefinite term.
Article 3 Information provided by the tour operator and/or travel agent
Tour operators and/or travel agents are obliged to:
1. inform travellers of the following before concluding a contract with the tour operator or travel agency:
a) regarding passports, visas and formalities concerning health care, general information required to enable travellers to arrange for the documents they need for the journey. Travellers who are not Belgian nationals must enquire at the relevant embassy (embassies) or consulate(s) as to which administrative formalities must be fulfilled;
b) information on the conclusion and contents of a cancellation and/or travel insurance;
c) the general and specific terms and conditions applicable to the contracts;
2. provide travellers with information on the following in writing, at the latest, 7 calendar days before departure date:
a) timetables, stopovers and connections and, if possible, the seat the traveller will occupy;
b) name, address, telephone and fax numbers and/or email address of either the local representative of the tour operator and/or travel agent, or of the local institutions which may be able to help the traveller if there are any problems or directly with the travel agent or tour operator.
c) journeys and visits that minors make abroad and information which will ensure direct contact with the children or people in charge of the children during their stay.
The abovementioned term of 7 calendar days does not apply to cases where contracts are concluded too late.
Article 4 Information from the traveller
Travellers must provide tour operators and/or travel agents with all useful information that is explicitly requested of them or that may reasonably have an influence on the smooth running of the trip.
If the traveller provides incorrect information and this leads to additional costs for the tour operator and/or travel agent those costs may be charged.
Article 5 Contract effectuation
1. When the journey is booked the travel agent or tour operator is obliged to present the traveller with an order form in accordance with the law.
2. The organised travel contract comes into being the moment that the traveller receives written confirmation of the booked journey, whether or not it is via the travel agent acting on behalf of the tour operator.
If the contents of the order form derogate from those of the travel confirmation or if the confirmation is not made, at the most, within 21 days of signing the order form, the traveller may assume that the journey was not booked and the traveller is entitled to summary reimbursement of all amounts already paid.
Article 6 Price
1. The price agreed in the contract cannot be reviewed unless this, together with its exact calculation, is explicitly provided in the contract and to the extent that the review is the consequence of a change to:
a) exchange rates applicable to the journey and/or
b) transport costs, including the fuel costs and/or
c) levies and taxes owed for particular services.
There must, however, be actual compliance with the condition that said change shall also lead to a reduction in price.
2. The price determined in the contract may under no circumstances be increased less than 20 calendar days before the departure date.
3. If the increase exceeds the total price by 10%, the traveller can terminate the contract without compensation. In this case the traveller is entitled to summary reimbursement of all the amounts he has paid to the tour operator.
Article 7 Payment of the cost of the trip
1. Except if there is express agreement to the contrary, the traveller pays, as an advance payment, a part of the overall or total travel amount as stipulated in the specific terms and conditions.
2. If, after the traveller has been sent a notice of default, he fails to pay either the advance payment or the travel amount demanded of him, the tour operator and/or travel agent has the right to terminate the contract with the traveller ipso jure and at the traveller’s expense.
3. Except if there is agreement to the contrary, the traveller shall pay the balance of the price, at the latest, 1 month before the date of departure and on condition that he is supplied with written travel confirmation and/or travel documents in advance or simultaneously.
Article 8 Transferability of the booking
1. Before the commencement of the journey, the traveller can transfer his journey to a third party, who shall indeed have to comply with all the terms and conditions of the organised travel contract. The transferor must give the tour operator and, if there is a travel agent, the travel agent, timely notification of this transfer before departure.
2. The transferring traveller and the transferee are fully liable for payment of the total price of the journey and transfer costs.
Article 9 Other changes by the traveller
If the traveller requests any other change, the tour operator and/or travel agent may charge all costs pursuant to this.
Article 10 Change by the tour operator before departure
1. If one of the essential points of the contract cannot be executed before the commencement of the journey, the tour operator must notify the traveller of this as quickly as possible and, in any event, before departure and inform him of the possibility of terminating the contract without costs, unless he accepts the change proposed by the tour operator.
2. The traveller must notify the travel agent or tour operator of his decision as quickly as possible and, in any event, before departure.
3. If the traveller accepts the change, a new contract or addendum must be drawn up for the contract in which the changes made and their influence on the price are stated.
4. If the traveller does not accept the change, he may request that article 11 be applied.
Article 11 Termination by the tour operator before departure
1. If the tour operator terminates the contract before the commencement of the journey due to circumstances not attributable to the traveller, the traveller can choose one of the following:
1) either accept a new offer of a journey of equal or better quality, without having to pay a supplement: if the journey offered as a replacement is of a lesser quality, the tour operator must reimburse the difference in price as quickly as possible;
2) or reimbursement, as quickly as possible, of all amounts he has paid in terms of the contract.
2. Where applicable, the traveller can also claim compensation for non-execution of the contract unless:
a) the tour operator cancels the journey because the minimum number of travellers provided in the contract and required to proceed with the journey was not reached within the term provided in the contract and the traveller was informed of this in writing at least 15 calendar days before departure;
b) the cancellation is the result of a force majeure, which does not include overbooking. Force majeure is understood to mean abnormal and unforeseeable circumstances beyond the control of the person in question, the consequences of which cannot be avoided, despite all preventive
Article 12 Total or partial non-fulfilment of the journey
1. If it transpires during the journey that an important part of the services which the contract lays out cannot be provided, the tour operator shall, for the purposes of continuing the journey, take all necessary measures to offer the traveller fitting alternatives that are free of charge.
2. If there is a difference between the services proposed and those actually provided, the tour operator shall compensate the traveller to the amount of this difference.
3. If a similar arrangement appears impossible or if the traveller does not accept these alternatives for well-founded reasons, the tour operator shall make an equivalent mode of transport available which shall take the former back to the place of departure and, where necessary, shall compensate the traveller.
Article 13 Termination by the traveller
The traveller can terminate all or part of the contract at all times. If the traveller terminates the contract for circumstances attributable to him, he shall compensate the damage that the tour operator and/or travel agent suffered as a result of the termination. The compensation for damages can be determined at a fixed rate in the specific terms and conditions or in the travel programme, but this may amount, at most, to the price of the trip.
Article 14 The tour operator’s liability
1. The tour operator is liable for the proper execution of the contract, in accordance with expectations which the traveller may reasonably have in terms of the provisions of the organised travel contract and for the obligations emanating from the contract, regardless of whether it has to fulfil these obligations itself or whether other service providers have to fulfil them and this does not prejudice the right of the tour operator to hold the other providers to their services.
2. The tour operator is as liable for the acts of negligence of its appointees and representatives acting while fulfilling their position as it is for its own deeds and acts of negligence.
3. If an international treaty applies to a service included in the organised travel contract the tour operator’s liability is excluded or limited in accordance with that treaty.
4. To the extent that the tour operator does not itself perform the services provided for in the travel contract, its liability for material damage and the compensation for loss of enjoyment of the trip are jointly limited to twice the travel amount.
5. Furthermore, Articles 18 and 19 of the law of 16 February 1994 apply.
Article 15 Traveller’s liability
The traveller is liable for the damage which the tour operator and/or travel agent, their appointees and/or their representatives suffer pursuant to a mistake on his part or when he has not fulfilled his contractual obligations. The mistake is judged in accordance with a normal traveller’s behaviour.
Article 16 Complaint arrangement
1. Before departure:
If the traveller has a complaint before departure he must lodge this as quickly as possible with the travel agent and/or tour operator by registered letter or with acknowledgement of receipt.
2. During the journey:
The traveller must report complaints locally during the execution of the contract as quickly as possible, in an appropriate and cogent manner, so that a solution can be sought. To this end he must – in the following order of priority – turn to a representative of the tour operator or a representative of the travel agent or directly to the travel agent, or, finally, directly to the tour operator.
3. After the journey:
If a complaint is not satisfactorily resolved locally, or if it was impossible for the traveller to formulate a complaint there, he must lodge a complaint with the travel agent or otherwise with the tour operator by registered letter or with acknowledgement of receipt, at the latest, one month after the end of the travel contract.
Article 17 Reconciliation procedure
1. If there is a dispute parties must first aim to reach an amicable arrangement.
2. If this attempt at an amicable arrangement fails within a term of 1 to 3 months, each of the parties concerned can apply to the Secretary of the Reconciliation Unit of the vzw Geschillencommissie Reizen (Travel Arbitration Board) to initiate reconciliation proceedings. All parties must agree to this.
3. To this end the Secretary shall provide parties with an informative brochure, reconciliation regulations and a “reconciliation agreement”. As soon as the parties concerned (jointly or severally) have completed and signed this contract, and as soon as each party has paid the sum of EUR 50, the reconciliation proceedings shall be initiated.
4. In accordance with the straightforward procedure described in the regulations, an impartial conciliator shall subsequently contact the parties for the purpose of achieving fair reconciliation.
5. The agreement that may be reached shall be laid down in a binding written agreement.
Secretariat of the (Travel Arbitration Board) Koning Albert II laan 16, 1000 Brussels
email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Article 18 Arbitration or Court of Law
1. If reconciliation proceedings are not initiated or if they fail, the claiming party can, in principle, choose between proceedings before the normal court or arbitration proceedings before the Travel Arbitration Board.
2. For claims starting from the amount of EUR 1,250, any defending party has a term of 10 calendar days to refuse, by registered letter, the requested arbitration proceedings by the claiming party after which the dispute can be initiated before the ordinary court.
Under EUR 1,250, only the traveller has the option of refusing arbitration proceedings.
3. These arbitration proceedings are arranged by disputes regulations and can only be initiated after no amicable arrangement could be reached within a term of 4 months following the (anticipated) end of the journey (or possibly as of the service that gave rise to the dispute). Disputes as regards bodily injuries can only be resolved by the courts.
4. The arbitration committee composed by the joint committee, shall, in accordance with the disputes regulations, pronounce a binding and definitive ruling on the travel dispute. No appeal can be made against this. The Secretary of the arbitration committee and general Secretary of the Travel Arbitration Board: Koning Albert II- laan 16, 1000 Brussels, email: email@example.com