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    Return of the Package Holiday?

    Warning signs of a very tough time for the travel industry have been surfacing for a while now, but the collapse of XL last week was enough to shock most of us into sitting up and taking notice. The thought of losing the hard-earned cash we invest in an all important annual holiday is a frightening prospect, as is the possibility of being stranded in a foreign country with no flight home. Traditionally, the only holiday insurance we've been encouraged to consider is that which covers illness, accident or theft abroad. Now the very real prospect of airline or tour operator insolvency means we need to take extra precautions to protect that week in the sun. It's not necessarily as complicated as you might think. All tour operators and travel firms selling holiday packages (including flights and accommodation) are legally bound to hold at ATOL licence, meaning you will be refunded, or returned home in the event of insolvency. But package deals have suffered from a slightly naff reputation in recent years. The desire to experience more adventurous, less structured travel and the emergence of the internet has led many of us to cutting out the middle man to find our own bargains online. It's certainly easier to tailor-make a holiday to your own specific requirements by not opting for a package tour, and an estimated 20 million of us did exactly that this year. But DIY holiday-makers are most at risk. There's no legal requirement for airlines or accommodation sales companies to cover you if the worst should happen. According to an article in the TravelMail, a survey conducted on behalf of First Choice and Thomson revealed that 53% of holidays booked during the first half of this year were package holidays, and the trend is set to increase - with more quality and variety promised for 2009. Perhaps the security they offer will lead to a renaissance for the package break and a return to the popularity they enjoyed in the 1970s. Meanwhile, if you do decide to go it alone, shop around to find travel insurance that includes SAFI (scheduled airline failure insurance) or opt for an insolvency insurance package.

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