What constitutes a “package” holiday is an issue of concern for the travel industry. Selling a package brings onerous obligations and cost. Avoiding selling a package is attractive - but there has been considerable uncertainty on how to do that. This uncertainty was at the heart of the Association of British Travel Agents judicial review of the Civil Aviation Authority's guidance notes.

The Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform has issued a press release and guidance on this issue. It recognised that original guidance in 1992 was now out of date and did not take heed of the huge changes in the travel sector in subsequent years.

The guidance does not provide any form of magic solution. But it does attempt to isolate the signposts for identifying a package holiday. It reflects the view that avoiding selling a package is possible but only by taking considerable care with the whole sales process and documentation. Specifically, it looks at internet sales and acknowledges that the same principles that apply to sales in person or over the phone also apply to the internet.

While the guidance will not bind in court, it will be highly influential. It is essential reading for all tour operators, travel agents, airlines and vendors of holiday services.

The impact that the implementation of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive will have is also considered in the guidance. The UCPD comes into force in April this year.

Also in April, Air Travel Organisers' Licensing's £1 per passenger levy is coming into force. With this in mind, it is a key time to review contractual arrangements.

Find out about the government's travel guidance.