The government has announced that the Air Travel Organizer's Licence scheme, whereby operators must pay for a bond to cover reimbursement if the travel business fails, will be replaced with a £1 levy. This will mean that holidaymakers will have to pay a levy every time they buy a package holiday to ensure a refund if their travel company fails.
The State Monopolies Authority seems to have approached the regulatory leap into online and remote-access skill-based games with trepidation: forced by law to allow them, it has tried to do so in the most regulated and controlled way possible. Despite this approach, many aspects of the new regulations are unclear and potentially vulnerable to challenge by operators.
The difference between a travel agent and a tour operator is a crucial one, but it is not always easy to define. Widespread use of the Internet has radically changed the way business is done, blurring the distinction between organizers or operators on the one hand, and agents or intermediaries on the other.
Betting operators and service users throughout Italy are familiar with punti di commercializzazione - shops or concessions which promote licensed online betting services and offer facilities for accessing such services. However, the gambling market has changed radically since the main regulating decree for such shops was introduced in 2006 and new legislation has put their future regulation in doubt.
The Data Inspection Board has granted a gaming company the right to collect and process personal data regarding players who cheat while playing online poker. It decided that Svenska Spel's need to control, report and ban cheaters was a legitimate interest that justifies an exemption from the Personal Data Act.
A recent ruling has clarified the scope of the Tour Operators' Margin Scheme, which affects the value added tax treatment of businesses that buy and resell travel, accommodation and certain other services as principal or undisclosed agents. Only expenses which are specifically attributable to services supplied under the scheme should be included in the calculation.
The Treasury has proposed that all sales of travel insurance by travel agents and tour operators be regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) from January 1 2009. At present, only standalone sales must meet FSA requirements, whereas travel insurance sold with a holiday is exempt.
Some travel companies and operators which have never read their insurance policies will be unaware of the effect of the exclusions and conditions therein. Policy wordings differ significantly between insurers and ignorance of the differences can lead to expensive gaps in cover. As a recent case shows, insurers may seek to avoid liability where there has been a delay in notification of a claim.
The Italian authority with responsibility for granting a travel agency licence is the government office of the province in which the company in question intends to open the agency. The company must supply details of its corporate status and comply with certain financial and insurance requirements.
The European Court of Justice has upheld a decision that variable additional commission offered to travel agents by British Airways abused the carrier's dominant position. Its competitors, whose sales were inevitably much lower than those of British Airways, were obliged to offer much larger discounts in order to give their agents a similar level of revenue.
A recent case involving the Association of British Travel Agents and the Civil Aviation Authority examined the regulations covering the sale of packages of tourism services. The decision may prompt tour operators to move towards an agency model and sell flights, accommodation and other services separately, rather than as part of a pre-arranged package.
Gaming operators have welcomed the ruling issued by the European Court of Justice in the Placanica Case. Although the decision does not break new ground, it adds to the case law on the compatibility of Italian regulations on gambling with EU principles and confirms the principles established in the Gambelli Case.
Foreign investment in tourism qualifies for incentives under the Law on Incentives for the Tourism Industry. Among other things, foreign investment will benefit from a partial exemption from income tax for 10 years once the project has been approved by the Nicaraguan Tourism Institute.
The government of Oman is taking significant steps to encourage major tourist residential developments in the sultanate. One issue of great interest is whether foreigners will be permitted to acquire properties in these designated areas. It is now theoretically permissible for non-Omanis to acquire freehold interest in real estate in Oman in specific areas designated by the Ministry of Tourism.
The European Commission is once again preparing for infringement proceedings against Italy in relation to its restrictions on online gambling. The confusion over Italy's legislation and contradictory case law has highlighted the fact that the state is restricting betting services provided by operators without Italian licences while creating ever more licensed but inadequately monitored betting opportunities.
For many people, the dream of owning a cottage as a summer getaway is increasingly moving out of reach as the most desirable and accessible areas become prohibitively expensive. As a result, there is an increasing market for shared ownership and use of resort accommodation that a person can still call home. One of the more popular ways to do this is through the fractional-share condominium.
A month after an Italian civil court ordered interim measures in favour of the operators of a gambling website which had been blacklisted by the State Monopolies Authority, the list of unauthorized websites has been challenged again, this time before an administrative court.
Two months after the government introduced a blacklist of gambling websites to be blocked by Italian internet service providers, the courts have issued the first rulings on the attempted ban. The Civil Court of Rome has ordered the restrictions on access to a Maltese betting operator's website to be lifted, and all elements of the new regulatory framework are expected to be challenged at national and EU level.
The State Monopolies Authority has ordered Italian internet service providers to block access to unlicensed online gambling operators. However, the implementing resolution is clearly aimed at encouraging players back to traditional, taxable forms of gambling, even though European case law has established that the loss of tax revenue is not sufficient reason to restrict gambling services.
Italy's new Consumer Code sets out regulations for consumer protection in the travel industry, clarifying operators' and retailers' obligations and customers' rights. The legislation covers transparent advertising and terms of sale, the cancellation or alteration of a travel package, operators' liability and the provision of compensation.