Families face paying in advance for holidays as tour operators look to ease cash flow problems

Families thinking about booking a holiday in the new year could be asked to settle the full amount for their trip up to three months before they travel.

Holiday giant Cosmos is the first major operator to insist that travellers now pay for their holidays 12 weeks in advance. Operators are looking to ease the cash flow problems that have been affecting the travel industry since the recession hit in 2008. 

Family using laptop

Paying for a holiday months in advance could become increasingly enforced by tour operators as they look to secure funds.

Deadlines for holiday settlement is usually eight weeks but Cosmos is increasing the payment date by a month and other holiday goliaths could soon follow their lead.

Although the UK managing director of TUI Travel, Dermot Blastland, has said the company won't be introducing the 12 week deadline for TUI-owned operators, which include Thomson and First Choice, he said the prospect of an earlier payment date hasn't been ruled out in the future.

The change will be implemented in Cosmos' summer 2010 second-edition brochures, which will be released at Christmas, just before the industry's booking boom time begins in January.

A spokeswoman for Cosmos said: "Anybody who has already booked under the current terms and conditions won't be affected."

Frances Tuke from ABTA, The Travel Association, said the decision could actually provide reassurance to travellers.

"There are a few companies that already have 12 weeks in the their terms and conditions and it can actually offer the consumer an element of certainty. The important thing is to check that the holiday you've chosen is financially protected.

She continued: "I'm not sure it (12 week advance payments) will become widespread. TUI has considered and rejected it so that would suggest it might not."

The travel industry has been badly affected by the credit crunch as holidaymakers have opted to book late or take a holiday at home. Industry insiders are predicting that the new year will bring more gloom as operators making a loss finally succumb to the financial pressure and close.

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