A NSW Government website

Look before you book

From 1 November, travel between Greater Sydney and regional NSW is permitted for fully-vaccinated people.

Before making or accepting a booking, go over the Terms and Conditions so you know what is possible if holiday plans change. 

Whether you're a traveller or a business, we have resources to help you plan for the upcoming summer holiday season.
 

Resources

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Travellers at an airport

Why are Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) important?

Tourism is an important part of the NSW economy and as NSW opens up and we book our next holiday, terms and conditions can seem like the last thing on our minds.

But the terms and conditions, also known as ‘T&Cs’ act as a contract between the customer and the business and outline important topics such as refunds, and making changes or cancelling a booking.

If your travel or event is cancelled due to COVID-19, getting a refund or date change can depend on what you agree to in the T&Cs.


Checklist for travellers

This checklist will help you plan your next getaway and ensure you are aware of your rights while holidaying.

Travel and accommodation

Before paying for any part of your trip:

  • Shop around for the best price, read reviews and talk to other travellers. Your research could uncover a great deal or help you avoid a bad one.
  • Check the business you are dealing with is licensed.
  • Ask when payments are due and look for travel providers that offer payment closer to departure when there’s more certainty about travel proceeding.
  • Check whether any payments are refundable in case you need to cancel. You should also check if there is a cancellation fee.

  • Ask about check-in and check-out times. 

  • Consider limiting the number of destinations, or travel services you use, per holiday - it may be easier to make cancelations if you need to.

  • Know the rules before choosing to stay in private accommodation such as Airbnb.

Know the COVID-19 rules

Keep up to date with the latest COVID news:

Consider travel insurance

If something unexpected happens before or during your trip, travel insurance can cover the loss of the deposit or cancellation fees, medical expenses, personal liability, loss or theft of baggage and travel documents.

For more information, see Fair Trading's page on insurance.

Check your travel details

In the excitement of planning an adventure, people can accidentally book the wrong day or even year. Before you make your booking, double-check your travel details.

Some businesses won't refund you just because you made a mistake.

Understand your terms and conditions

  • Go to the terms and conditions (T&Cs) page on the travel company’s website to understand their polices on cancellations and refunds.
  • Australian Consumer Law is unlikely to apply to cancellations caused by COVID-19 restrictions. In such circumstances, getting a refund or date change will often depend on what you agree to in your T&Cs.

  • Understand what happens if you need to cancel your booking, or the booking cannot proceed due to COVID-19 travel restrictions or other events outside your control. Some businesses will offer full or partial refund, or credit.
  • Remember that if you book through a travel agent or another third party, the policies and T&Cs of both the agent and travel provider will apply, so you will need to check both.
  • Double-check what your travel or accommodation provider means when they say ‘risk free’ or ‘comes with 100% refund guarantee’.  These may misrepresent your right to a refund for cancelled travel.

If you use a travel agent

If using a travel agent, check the agent’s credentials.  

  • Are they a member of a recognised industry association?
  • Do they have any industry-specific qualifications or training?
  • Are they insured if they go out of business before you take your holiday?

In Australia, travel agents do not need a licence, but many are part of associations and have industry-specific training.  

For more information, see Fair Trading's page on travel agents.

Checklist for businesses

This checklist will help tourism businesses understand their rights and obligations ahead of the upcoming holiday season.

Know your legal obligations

  • Under Australian Consumer Law (ACL), you must not engage in conduct that is ‘misleading, deceptive, or unconscionable’.
  • Never make false or misleading statements about the services you provide or mislead customers about your terms and conditions.
  • Never change the terms of the contract or unfairly penalise a customer in the event of a cancellation.

For short-term rental accommodations:

Fair Trading has more information about short-term rental accommodation.

Terms and conditions

Before customers book, make sure they know about the terms and conditions (T&Cs). This will help you later if there are cancellations or other changes.

The T&Cs should be clearly identified and should explain in simple language:

  • The remedies available in the event of cancellations, and the terms surrounding each (for example, what impact of timing/short notice).
  • If you use credit notes, make sure they are outlined clearly in the T&Cs
  • Whether the T&Cs exclude the liability of the travel provider.
  • Whether the customer must pay cancellation fees, balloon payments, or other similar payments.
  • Any commissions or referral arrangements.

If there are cancellation fees, or other costs associated with cancelling, tell customers before they book.

  • Explain what the cancellation fee would be, and under what circumstances they would pay it.
  • Clearly explain any other cancellation expenses that are to be covered by the fee or retained amount.
  • On request, provide an itemised breakdown outlining the amount charged or retained.

Tell the customer that this is allowed under Australian Consumer Law (ACL) and they have rights under the consumer guarantees of the ACL.

Cancellations

When a travel service has been cancelled due to COVID-19 or other reasons, you must honour the terms and conditions.

  • You must provide customers with a free-of-charge refund where they are entitled to one. For example, if they purchased a ticket you promoted as ‘fully refundable’ or similar then they are entitled to a free-of-charge refund.
  • Any refund must be paid within a reasonable timeframe.
  • If the customer is entitled to a refund, you must offer it to them first, before you can offer any other alternatives, such as credit notes (see below).
  • You must take steps to recover funds from suppliers and in instances where you have received funds from them that are due to be returned to a customer, you must return those funds as soon as possible.
  • Communicate regularly with customers about the timing of the refund and the steps being taken.

If the customer is experiencing financial hardship or exceptional circumstances, consider being flexible. For example:

  • Are you able to offer a refund or credit note even if you're not contractually required to?
  • Are you able to offer a refund, rather than credit, when the customer is unlikely to ever have an opportunity to use that credit before it expires?

Make the most of the holiday season

Good work NSW! Vaccination rates are up and we're ready to travel. Here's some more information to help make the most of it.

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Travelling by road
If you're travelling by road, save money on the trip by using the Fuel Check. It gives you real-time information on the cheapest fuel prices anywhere in NSW.
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Advice to be a savvy customer
Travel agents, airlines, and cruise companies provide an excellent service. But as with any significant purchase, it always pays to know your consumer rights
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Advice to be a savvy customer
Will you be able to get a refund if something happens and you can't make it? Advice from Fair Trading on how to be a savvy consumer.
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Advice to be a savvy consumer
If you bought tickets to an event that has been cancelled, are you entitled to a refund or costs already incurred? Fair Trading has answers to common questions like these.
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Know the latest
Know the latest rules traveling in, out, and around NSW during COVID-19 as well as mask wearing, social distancing and capacity limits.
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Know the rules
Many people are choosing private rentals and holiday letting through services like Airbnb. There are rules for these 'short-term accommodation rentals' that hosts and guests must follow, and these rules are different to those for traditional accommodation like hotels. Learn more

If you need to change your booking

Contact the business first to discuss your options.

If you can’t agree on a solution, NSW Fair Trading might be able to help.

Contact NSW Fair Trading

 

 

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