False holiday sickness claims in the UK are growing at such an alarming rate that holidaymakers found guilty of false claims may soon face criminal charges.
According to the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), over the past four years, there has been a whopping 434% rise in the number of stomach illness claims made by UK tourists.
With hotels and tour companies in the firing line of claims, some operators have suggested they might stop offering all-inclusive packages, while overall holiday prices and insurance premiums could increase to combat the costs of claims.
The Telegraph reported that false claims are costing holiday resorts millions of pounds each year, as tourists falsely accuse hotels of giving them food poisoning.
Tourism in Spain has been hit the hardest, with Spanish hotels hit with more than £50 million (around AU$86 million) in claims a year, and Majorca tour operators reporting a massive 700% increase in claims relating to stomach illnesses in just the past year.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) blames the rise in partly on claims management companies, who encourage travellers to make claims via forums like social media, where Facebook posts have promised “amounts of £700 up to £40,000”, and added, “you don’t have to have been seriously ill to be able to claim”.
“I’m sure the travel industry takes no pleasure at all in reporting customers to the police but so badly out of hand is the issue of unjustified illness claims that it is necessary to make a few examples,” Travelaw senior partner Stephen Mason said, also warning that the rise in “dodgy claims” could make it “impossible to treat the genuine”.
According to The Telegraph, the average payout for a sickness claim is between £1,000 and £2,000 ($1,700 to $3,400).