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Venice, Italy © Alessandro Persiani, AdobeStock

The rights of vacationers in the event of heavy rain and flooding

This summer, heavy rainfall caused flooding in Slovenia, Austria, Sweden and Croatia. As a result of climate change, disasters of this kind are likely to occur with increasing frequency.

The European Consumer Centre Germany provides information on travellers' rights.

Organised tour or individual trip

"Travellers who have booked a package holiday enjoy more uniform rights across Europe and are better protected in the event of a crisis than individual travellers. Package travellers have a single point of contact with the organiser, whereas individual travellers have to deal with the contractual terms and conditions of each service provider, such as the airline, hotel or ticket vendor, and have to deal with several different people," explains Karolina Wojtal, Co-Director of the European Consumer Centre Germany.

What rights apply when travelling on a package tour?

There are a number of situations that can lead to a trip being interrupted. Here are some different scenarios that could apply.

The organiser of the package tour cancels the tour

If unavoidable and exceptional circumstances arise at the place of stay and prevent the organiser from carrying out the planned tour, he may cancel the trip. If you have already paid a deposit or the full price of the trip, you are entitled to a full refund. You are not entitled to any other damages.

Travellers wish to cancel their package holiday themselves

In the event of exceptional and unavoidable circumstances at the destination or in the immediate vicinity, travellers have the option of requesting cancellation of their trip from their tour operator. In this case, they are entitled to a full refund of the price of the trip, but no additional compensation is provided.eisende

"The condition is that the trip is imminent and affected by exceptional circumstances", explains Karolina Wojtal. If the travel date is a long way off, you have to rely on the goodwill of the tour operator.


The mere fear of flooding is not sufficient reason to cancel a trip. The trip cannot be cancelled free of charge. Cancellation charges are to be expected.

Travellers wish to interrupt their holidays

If travellers can prove that the trip is seriously affected by exceptional circumstances, they may terminate the package travel contract and undertake the return journey. Travel services that can no longer be enjoyed as a result of early termination of the contract do not have to be paid for and a refund may be requested.

If the return journey was part of the contract, the tour operator is obliged to organise it. In this case, any additional costs shall be borne by the tour operator.

Delayed return journey

If you have to stay at your holiday destination for longer than originally planned because the return journey is not possible due to exceptional circumstances, the organiser must cover the hotel costs for a maximum of three additional days.

Travellers remain at their holiday destination

If a major defect occurs during the trip, holidaymakers who choose to stay on holiday have the right to reduce the price of the trip with the tour operator. This is particularly the case if the contractually agreed service cannot be provided.

If an event taking place as part of the package tour is cancelled due to the flooding, tour operators must refund the ticket for the event.

Individual travel - this applies when the flight and hotel are booked separately.

If the airline cancels the flight due to the floods, travellers are entitled to a refund of the flight price or re-routing. No additional compensation can be claimed.

"If your flight is maintained, you generally cannot cancel it free of charge, unless you have expressly chosen a flexible fare," explains Karolina Wojtal. "Contact the airline and ask whether it might be possible to cancel it free of charge or postpone it to a later date".

Can a hotel reservation be cancelled free of charge?

This issue is not regulated uniformly across Europe. To find out whether or not cancellation charges apply, you should refer to the general terms and conditions of sale. It is preferable to opt for a booking that can be cancelled at the outset. If this is not the case, you should contact the hotel and ask whether the stay can be postponed to a later date or cancelled free of charge.

If the hotel cancels the booking because the service cannot be provided due to flooding, it must refund the full amount. If you are already at the hotel but cannot continue your holiday, you must request a refund of the remaining amount.

A ticket for an event has been purchased and the event has to be cancelled due to flooding.

If the event is cancelled, the ticket price may be refunded. Other costs incurred, for example for travel or hotel accommodation, cannot be claimed.

Does travel cancellation insurance apply?

Natural disasters are generally excluded from trip cancellation insurance. It therefore does not pay if a trip cannot be undertaken because of flooding. You should check the terms and conditions of the insurance to see whether natural disasters are included. Some credit cards also include trip cancellation insurance. To find out whether this insurance applies, check the credit card's general terms and conditions.

Further information on important issues relating to travel rights can be found on the website of the European Consumer Centre Germany.

This article is from the 1/2024 issue of the magazine "Life Abroad".

The magazine is published four times a year free of charge with many informative articles on foreign topics.

It is published by the BDAE, the expert for protection abroad.