Trade bodies dismayed at 12-Day Rule delay


LONDON – The European Tour Operators Association (ETOA) and other trade bodies are dismayed that re-introduction of the 12-Day Rule for coach operators has been delayed, and will not come into effect before Easter 2010.

ETOA, the European Travel Agents and Tour Operators Association (ECTAA) and the International Road Transport Union (IRU) have issued a joint call for the European institutions to complete the decision-making process. The three leading travel industry organizations insist on an immediate publication of the new rules in the EU Official Journal so that operators, drivers and customers can benefit from the derogation by spring 2010.

The delay seems to have been caused by bureaucratic procedures within the EU linguistic services where the final text is translated into all the official EU languages. The hold-up in approving the final text is likely to increase the costs for travel businesses that had planned and contracted their services under the assumption that the so-called 12-Day Rule would be in effect by the start of 2010.

The 12-day derogation is of vital importance for European competitiveness in world tourism markets. This new delay postpones its implementation beyond Easter 2010, which will harm inbound tourism and related jobs.

“Operators are paid to plan. Planning is impossible if the foundations of what you do shift,” said ETOA executive director Tom Jenkins. “The ending in April 2007 of coach drivers’ ability to work for 12 days was a major blow to the tourism industry: it increased prices and caused big logistical problems.”

He added: “We were led to believe that this was going to be lifted by 1st January 2010. People have planned tours and sold them throughout the world on this basis. Now we understand that this is stalled because of translation problems.”