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In these uncertain financial times, with airlines and tour companies exposed to high fuel prices and lower consumer spending, it is essential your payments are fully protected. For this reason, we have posted advice how you can reduce and even eliminate the risk of losing your money by buying tours and travel from responsible companies who correctly protect your payments as opposed to dealing with companies who may use your payments to resolve their own short term cash-flow issues.
Our financial statement below gives you information on the financial protection that we offer you as a client but also advice on what you should be aware of before you book any form of travel in the UK or Europe – regardless of which company you choose to travel with. Most companies who sell tours within the UK fail to protect clients (your) money.
The Legal requirements for any travel agent, tour operator, charity or private individual who offers travel arrangements in Europe (including the UK)
European law requires all companies, charities or individuals who make package travel arrangements that are sold from the within Europe to protect their clients’ funds in case they encounter financial difficulties, bankrupt or simply disappear with your money.
Failure to properly protect your payment is actually a criminal offence and the offender could face a jail sentence for not protecting your funds. This basically means that if you pay for a package tour and the company spends your money and then goes bankrupt, the owner or director will have committed a serious offence.
Unfortunately, the UK’s enforcement body “Trading Standards” which is run by local councils in the many different regions of the UK only follows up complaints for companies that have failed to protect funds after a client has reported the offending company or person. This normally happens after a company has gone out of business, when it’s too late and the client’s payment has already disappeared.
International Friends take a different view
Unlike most tour companies that sell package tours to international visitors, we do not take advantage of the weak enforcement of the rules. We see the security and safe return of your payment in the event of our failure as a legal right that you, as our client are entitled to. We also hope that you will see this as another reason to use us as opposed to other companies that do not protect your money.
How we are able to protect your payments
Any transaction for package travel arrangements made with through International Friends, which is part of GTI Travel Group Ltd is automatically covered in our independently administered General Client Trust Account. This account is held with Natwest Bank and is managed on a daily basis by an independent chartered accountant who makes sure that all pre-payments for our tours and day trips are protected by this account. This safety measure ensures that we as a tour company do not use your money to provide cash-flow for or business until your holiday or tour has been completed.
We also have our own documented safety policy and additional combined liability insurance, which provides extra cover for our entire supply chain, so that in the event of major unforeseen events, you are travelling with a company that has taken all steps to reduce your exposure to risk. We believe our additional insurance demonstrates how importantly we view your safety.
We firmly believe that we go a long way beyond most other companies or organisations which operate tours for overseas visitors. Our consistent attention to detail together with the best products on the UK market, means that you can be assured of a fantastic experience with people who really do care!
Verifiable Proof of compliance and security
You can verify everything we state in this section by requesting the following from us:
1. Copy of our tour operators liability insurance
2. Copy of our transport operators liability insurance
Additionally, International Friends, which is part of GTI Travel Group Ltd is a registered company and copies of our accounts are available from Companies House for a fee. We operate on the basis we maintain a healthy balance sheet, generating profits that are re-invested back into the company to ensure you get the best possible experience.
Why take chances – book with complete confidence, wherever you are in the world.
Questions & Answers
Q If an operators has CAA/ATOL bonding is my money protected?
A Only if your travel has been packaged together with a flight and the tour company offered CAA/ATOL bonding. A CAA/ATOL bonded tour company cannot use their CAA/ATOL bonding to financially protect a coach or train tour that has not been sold and packed with a flight. A combined air and tour package must be on 1 invoice. The CAA/ATOL bonding refers to the UK governments' Civil Aviation Authority Air Tour Operators Licence. The CAA has no remit to financially protect tours, unless they are sold as part of a package which contains a flight - not many people know or understand this!
The following sentence below has been copied directly from the CAA/ATOL website. You may click on this to link directly to the CAA/ATOL site for further details:
"It is important to note that ATOL only covers air holiday packages and some flight only arrangements bought from tour operators, such as charter flights" <http://www.caa.co.uk/default.aspx?catid=1052&pagetype=90&pageid=6512>