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Holidays with a travel agency. How to check a tour operator. How the Tourist Guarantee Fund works

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The holidays are coming soon, which means many people are planning their summer holidays. Millions of Poles choose organized trips with travel agencies. Before choosing a tour operator, it is worth checking whether it is a reliable partner with whom we can safely go on our dream vacation. The website of the Tourist Guarantee Fund comes to the rescue.

On the website of the Tourist Guarantee Fund tfg.ufg.pl you can find valuable information about tourism entrepreneurs free of charge and without having to log in. We can check whether the company whose services we are interested in has one mandatory entry in the register and security in the event of insolvency.

If they have them, we have a guarantee that the money for the paid trip will be returned to us, e.g. if it does not take place.

How to check a travel agency?

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After entering the Tourist Guarantee Fund website (tf.ufg.pl), select the “record” tab from the menu and then select the “search” option. It looks like this:

UFG ewidencja.pngThis is what the company search tab on the Insurance Guarantee Fund (UFG) website looks likeUFG

The company can be found by various data: name, tax identification number or city.

Please remember that the commercial brand (e.g. “Raj Turysty”) may differ from the registered name (e.g. “Rajowo-turs sp. z oo”) by which we can search for a company. The registered name can be found in the contract. When searching for a company by location, you must indicate the one in which the company was registered.

It is worth noting that we do not need to have complete information. You only need to fill in one field and the system will display results that match the data you have provided.

As advised by the Insurance Guarantee Fund, when we display the details of the entry about the selected company, it is worth paying attention to two issues:

business status (should be active) and – financial security (very important: the scope of the entrepreneur's territorial activity indicated in this part should include the direction of travel we have chosen).

What if the company is not in the register?

If we did not make a mistake by entering the company name in the records search engine, which the UFG itself recommends checking, this should make us vigilant.

As indicated by the Fund, there are few situations in which the organizer of a tourist event does not have to have an entry in the register and financial security. They are precisely defined in the regulations and apply to tourist events:

– organized occasionally, on a non-profit basis and only for a limited group of travelers (e.g. for friends), – lasting less than 24 hours and not including accommodation, – as well as events purchased on the basis of a general contract for organizing business trips.

“To avoid any doubts, let us clarify that the entry must be held by tour operators, as well as by entrepreneurs facilitating the purchase of related travel services (e.g. flight and accommodation purchased as separate services and covered by separate contracts with their suppliers). However, travel agents intermediating in selling offers of tour operators (note: the register should be checked by the organizer, not the agent),” emphasizes the UFG.

Check whether there is any ban on tourist activities

On the website of the Tourist Guarantee Fund you can also check whether the entrepreneur whose services you want to use is not banned from conducting tourist activities or whether there are proceedings pending against him to remove him from the register.

Additionally, you can check whether the company has not submitted a declaration of insolvency or whether the voivodeship marshal has not requested payment of financial security funds without obtaining this declaration.

How to check whether a tourist entrepreneur is not subject to a business banUFG

– It is worth checking the organizer of a tourist event before we sign a contract and go on holiday or a trip. It is in the best interest of travelers to use the services of registered tour operators, because only then are they covered by the protection required by law – says Małgorzata Ślepowrońska, president of the management board of the Insurance Guarantee Fund, which manages tourism funds – the Tourist Guarantee Fund and the Tourist Aid Fund.

When do the Funds pay out money?

There are two tourist funds operating within the UFG:

– Tourist Aid Fund (TFP) – Tourist Guarantee Fund (TFG)

Tourist Aid Fund (TFP). It was created to support the tourism industry and travelers in the event of mass cancellations of trips due to “unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances”. In such a situation, TFP funds are paid as repayable assistance to travel agencies, thanks to which they will be able to efficiently refund their clients money for canceled trips.

Tourist Guarantee Fund (TFG). This was created as additional security if tourism companies turned out to be insolvent. First of all, it should be emphasized that the law obliges companies to have their own security in the event of insolvency: an insurance guarantee, a bank guarantee or the organizer's insurance. This is the first pillar of security. However, there may be a situation where these funds turn out to be insufficient to cover all the costs – bringing the travelers back to the country and refunding the money for unused but paid benefits. Then the funds will be paid from funds from the TFG – pillar II.

Sequence of action in the event of insolvency of a travel agency

If the organizer of our tourist event declares insolvency and does not provide us with the benefits we paid for (stay and return to our home country), there is an appropriate procedure.

As indicated by the UFG, first of all, you should contact the Marshal's Office of the voivodeship where the travel agency is located. It is the marshal who organizes the return of travelers to Poland and activates the protection from the first pillar and, if necessary, also from the second pillar for this purpose.

“To receive a refund for an unused trip or part of it, you must submit an application to the company that provided security in Pillar I. If the security turns out to be insufficient, the company will forward the documentation to the Fund, which will pay the remaining amounts,” explains the UFG process.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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