New South Wales will become the first jurisdiction in Australia to introduce a minimum information standard for companies' terms and conditions to comply with, to make it easier for travellers to understand their rights when it comes to travel refunds.
The move, by Better Regulation Minister Kevin Anderson, comes after a CHOICE report called for the introduction of a mandatory information standard at the time of booking.
"These changes mean that customers will be fully informed before they commit to a purchase, helping them avoid an unexpected shock if they have to cancel or defer," Anderson told the Sydney Morning Herald.
"NSW will be the first jurisdiction in Australia to take this important step."
In October a CHOICE survey found that only 23% of Australians feel confident booking flights, accommodation or other services in the next 12 months.
Another survey in July also found that fewer than one in five people received a full refund on trips cancelled because of COVID. In most cases the refunds were processed in three to six months.
CHOICE CEO Alan Kirkland says the move by NSW should help restore some of that confidence for travellers from the state.
"CHOICE strongly welcomes the announcement that the NSW Government will introduce an information standard to help people better understand what will happen if travel is cancelled," says Kirkland.
CHOICE strongly welcomes the announcement that the NSW Government will introduce an information standard to help people better understand what will happen if travel is cancelledAlan Kirkland, CHOICE CEO
"Right now, travellers are left unsupported by our consumer laws, especially if travel plans are cancelled because of a government lockdown. This has left too many people out of pocket and struggling to navigate complex terms and conditions."
Kirkland is calling on other states and territories to follow suit, as well as the federal government to act.
"NSW is the first jurisdiction to act on the cancellation chaos that we've faced in the last two years," he says. "Consumer affairs ministers across the country should be considering how they can make travel bookings easier and strengthen refund rights."
What the CHOICE report is calling for
- Changes to make it easier for people to receive refunds.
- Minimum voucher/credit rights.
- A mandatory industry code for all airlines and large travel providers.
- A travel and tourism industry ombudsman.
- A mandatory information standard at time of booking.
- An ACCC market study into the travel and tourism sector.
- A national travel restrictions website.