British tourists could be banned from all-inclusive holidays warns industry chiefs
Since spring 2016 travel firm Tui has recorded around 15 times more illness claims than in previous years.
But the issue is described as a “British problem” with some holidaymakers suspected of making false claims.
Tens of thousands of UK holidaymakers have made claims in the past year despite reported sickness levels in resorts remaining stable.
A hotel will have customers from four or five markets of Tui and it will only be the British Tui customers who are complaining
The payouts can be worth up to £5,000 – more than the cost of the holiday.
The problem particularly affects all-inclusive resorts because the claimants can insist that they did not eat anywhere else.
But Tui’s UK managing director, Nick Longman said: “A hotel will have customers from four or five markets of Tui and it will only be the British Tui customers who are complaining.
There was been around 15 times more illness claims than in previous years
“All you can do is apologise and say ‘We’re sorry’.
”Tour operators who pay out can try to make a claim against the hotel where the sickness allegedly took place but there is growing “friction”.
Hotels believe the tour firms are not doing enough to stop the “scam”.
Mr Longman said: “There’s a distinct risk that if this carries on as it is unabated, the hoteliers will say to us either ‘We don’t want to work with the British market at all’ or ‘We’re not going to offer you all-inclusive’.
“I think that would be a terrible thing for the British customer. It’s just going to reduce the choice in terms of destinations and the type of holiday.”
Thomas Cook’s UK managing director, Chris Mottershead, also warned that the scam could lead to the end of all-inclusive holidays.
He said: ”It’s a very serious situation because it has the effect of stopping all-inclusive holidays for the UK market.
Hotels believe the tour firms are not doing enough to stop the “scam”
“It has the potential of putting hoteliers out of business. They will stop British customers coming into their hotels.”
The travel agents body Abta has launched a Stop Sickness Scams campaign urging the Government to close a “legal loophole” which it says is encouraging lawyers to sign up people to insist they were ill even if they were not.
It says legislation designed to halt the surge in fraudulent whiplash claims by motorists by imposing a cap on the legal fees that can be charged by law firms pursuing personal injury cases has fuelled the rise in travel sickness reports as it does not apply to incidents overseas.
But Abta warned that anyone making fraudulent claims risks going to jail.
Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said the fraud is “one of the biggest issues that has hit the travel industry for many years”.
He added: ”The Government must urgently address this issue.
Abta warned that anyone making fraudulent claims risks going to jail
“The legal loophole that is allowing firms to unduly profit from these claims must be closed.
“This would allow people with genuine claims access to justice but make this area less attractive to claims firms.”
He also warned that holidaymakers pursuing fake or exaggerated claims “risk ending up in jail either in the UK or abroad”.
Professor Jaime Campaner Munoz, a solicitor acting on behalf of Spain’s Federation of Majorcan Hotels, said: “We will be seeking convictions against anyone who is involved in these fraudulent claims.”