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How do Adventure Travel Agents manage their accountabilities in an ever-changing world?

A recent article published by Navin Singh Khadka, an Environment Correspondent for the BBC, highlighted the influence that climate change is having on tourism at a global level. As flooding or rock fall caused by ice melt or heavy rain can make hazardous activities such as mountaineering or white water rafting even more perilous, this is particularly relevant and challenging for Adventure Travel Agents which can arrange a wide variety of exhilarating outdoor activities for their clients; So how do Adventure Travel Agents manage their legal responsibilities and obligations in an ever-changing world? – The answer should be in their contracts!

As a UK Adventure Travel Agent, you could be held liable for incidents that occur as a result of treacherous conditions in all corners of the world. This is particularly the case if you have made Package Travel arrangements for your clients. Therefore, to limit potential claims and losses, your Booking Conditions and Agreements with local suppliers should cover some key legal points:

Obligations to your client and to you

Your Booking Conditions should include clauses that indicate exactly which services your Clients expect from you. Similarly, your Supplier Agreements should highlight the services you expect from a local Supplier. Whilst these Agreements should cover general terms, such as payment deadlines and termination dates, other obligations should also be included to protect you from additional hazards and risks. For example, your Agreement with the local suppliers should clearly set out their performance and compliance duties. So, whether your clients have booked a white water rafting tour or a glacial hike, you should expect the guide whether employed by the Tour Operator or not, to be appropriately qualified and trained to deal with newly created risks such as sudden deluges or forest fires. Also, in case of failure, the Local Operators should be obligated to ensure that they have adequate liability insurance. These obligations should be mirrored by you to your client via your Booking Conditions

Indemnity

Now let’s say a local guide or any 3rd party delivering services on your behalf was not appropriately qualified for the duties they were carrying out and to handle the risks associated with it, therefore breaching their obligations to you; if this breach resulted in a legal claim against your business, an Indemnity Clause in your Supplier Agreement ensures that you are able to recover any subsequent losses.

Force Majeure

Most adventure tour activities take place outdoors, in regions where the weather and other natural disasters, can mean the most thought ahead travel arrangements can change at the last minute. Take for example, the Himalayas, an area popular with Mountaineers and one of the most seismically active areas in the world. So what would you do if the smallest tremor exacerbated the effects of climate change by causing landslides and cutting off essential routes or accommodation? – A force majeure clause in your Booking Conditions and Supplier Agreements can help manage situations like this, and again clarifies obligations with regards to the wellbeing of guest, refunds and rearranging accommodation services.  

Law and Jurisdiction

As laws can considerably differ from country to country, it should be established which laws govern your contracts and therefore, the local regulations and licensing requirements with which you and your suppliers must comply with. We strongly recommend that any agreements are governed in accordance with English law and under exclusive jurisdiction of courts of England and Wales. This ensures that any disputes between the parties are dealt with in England or Wales (or Scotland or Northern Ireland!) and not in remote areas. Agreeing to foreign law and jurisdiction could ultimately be more costly in having to recruit a foreign lawyer to assist you and having to attend court abroad.

Travlaw is a niche law firm specialising in legal services to the travel industry, and we understand the specific challenges and needs of travel companies extremely well. We can advise and assist on all of the topics described above, and are happy to discuss your needs and provide a no obligation quote.

For any queries please contact Jackie@Travlaw.co.uk

published 30 September 2022

This article was originally published on: 30 September 2022

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