The first quarter of 2015 has been a busy one for RDO and its members in Europe. On the geo-political front there has been the on-going crisis in the euro-zone over re-financing the Greek debt, following the successful election to power in Greece of the Syriza party – at the time of writing this the situation remains unresolved and time is running out. Likewise here in the UK we have had to endure what has been one of the longest election campaigns in our history, with the outcome of the General election on May 7th most probably resulting in a second successive hung parliament and a coalition. Both these factors have not created a particularly stable environment for business in Europe.

That said, the timeshare industry in Europe is resilient if nothing else, and it has not let such uncertainties as these affect its viability. February saw the approval by the RDO Board of enhanced exit provisions for the so-called “legacy cases” – those who purchased back in the 1980”s and 1990’s. As well as death of a spouse and personal bankruptcy, RDO has now added serious illness and inability to travel as reasons for surrender and has added the general principle that an owner may in any event approach his/her developer to seek an exit, and a number of our major developers are already operating their own bespoke schemes to allow for this.

These developments have however not dissuaded the many predators out on the internet from seeking to frighten owners with fairy stories of infinite liability for maintenance etc. to such an extent that RDO had prepared a complaint to the EU Commission in Brussels on the basis that the UK Government in particular, had failed to clamp down on the illegal activity of many of these fraudsters. The threat of such a complaint seems to have had the desired effect and the authorities now seem prepared to engage seriously with the industry to look at problems with enforcement.

We have also recently had to deal with a ruling of the Supreme Court in Spain on the nullity of a timeshare contract under the transitional provisions of the Spanish Law enacting the First EU Timeshare Directive back in 1998. This decision has puzzled lawyers in the industry and there is a concern that the court may have miss-directed itself, but in any event the ruling, which is being appealed, is thought to have limited applicability and has ignored more recent Laws brought into force in Spain after the Second EU Directive.

It hasn’t all been firefighting though, RDO is working on a new social media initiative to promote timeshare in Europe, entitled “timetoshare” and more information on this and how individual members can participate will be made available later in the year, so watch this space.

For the second year running RDO and TATOC, the timeshare owner’s association, held a joint seminar for owner-run resorts, prior to TATOC’s Annual Conference. The seminar was well attended and the final session, where the rescue strategy of a struggling fictitious resort was discussed, with many suggestions from delegates, was well received and does indicate an appetite amongst these resorts for this type of event.

Whilst we are on the subject of Conferences, it wouldn’t be right to finish without mentioning our conference – RDO6, back in Marbella, Spain, from 17th to 19th September 2015 – which this year has the theme “Embracing Change” – it will be good. Don’t miss it!