Spain’s hotels fight back against fake food poisoning claims from Brits
Spanish hotels are turning to private detectives and the courts to repel a surge in fake food poisoning claims by British holidaymakers that has already cost them millions of euros.
The number of food sickness claims soared to more than 10,000 during the 2016-17 tourist season, from around just 600 in 2015-16, said the head of Spain’s hotel confederation CEHAT, Ramon Estalella.
It estimates that more than 90 percent of the claims – usually made through small-claims management companies that promise payouts of several thousand pounds – are bogus.
For years Britons have been the biggest group of tourists to Spain by nationality. Estalella said they are responsible for virtually all of the fake illness claims.
The problem has arisen because British consumer law does not require claimants to produce any medical evidence of illness, and claims can be filed up to three years after a stay at a hotel, he said.
“If the law was the same in Germany, Spain or France, I am certain that people from there would do the same,” Estalella told AFP.
Hotels complain that British claims management companies openly tout for business in Spanish resorts, promising not to charge any fees if no eventual damages are paid out.
An ambulance emblazoned with the words “Claims Clinic” was last year pictured driving around Tenerife on Spain’s Canary Islands, where more than one in three tourists is British.
The total value of the fake claims made during the 2016/17 season amounted to more than €100 million ($115 million), Estalella said.
Over 100 gin and tonics
In the past hotels tended to settle the claims because the cost of fighting them in a British court would be far higher overall.
But they have adopted a harder line as the number of claims has soared.
Hotel representatives met with officials from the British embassy in May and shortly after the Foreign Office in London updated its travel advice to warn that fraudulent claimants in Spain could face prosecution.
Police arrested a British man on the holiday island of Mallorca in June, and placed another under investigation, on suspicion of targeting tourists outside hotels and encouraging them to make bogus claims.
They opened their probe after receiving a dossier from a law firm hired by the Club Mac resort in Puerto Alcudia in northern Mallorca. The file included evidence compiled by private detectives.
It featured photographs and other documents that could disprove food poisoning claims made by almost 1,000 British clients of the resort’s three hotels, said Carolina Ruiz, the lawyer at Monlex Abogados, who is handling the case.
The bar receipts of one man who claimed his holiday was ruined because he fell sick from the food at the all-inclusive resort show he drank over 100 gin and tonics while on holiday there, she told AFP.
“If he was sick it was not because of food poisoning at the hotel, it was for other reasons,” Ruiz said ironically.
Police said the investigation is continuing and they have not ruled out further arrests in what is the biggest criminal probe to date against fake illness claims brought about by a complaint from a hotel group, Ruiz said.
British forced off flight to Spain after ‘drinking, screaming and acting like creatures’
This is the moment a group of women were forced off a plane for rowdy behaviour – much to the relief of the other passengers.
The women, who were part of a hen party, had reportedly been drinking alcohol, screaming and swearing during the FR9898 Ryanair flight from Liverpool to Alicante on Thursday night.
In the video, which was uploaded by Josh Daley, a group of women are seen arguing with staff in the aisle of the plane, as another shouts: ‘Sit down, sit down!’
10,000 Britons banned: Greek island of Crete says no more boozy holidays
Malia, on the island of Crete, is popular with British stag and hen parties but local hoteliers have become fed up of unruly behaviour.
Now 95 per cent of the Greek town’s hotels have signed up to a plan to ban people who have signed up for the notorious 18-30 package deal.
The controversial move has already seen thousands of large groups turned away.
Deputy Mayor Efthymios Moutrakis pinned the blame on tour operators who sold holidays “where anything goes”.
He told The Times: “We’ve given these tour operators a free hand in branding an image completely alien to what Malia is really about.
“Malia isn’t about sex, drugs and everything goes. It’s the prime tourist destination in Crete bringing in millions of euros to the island.”
Hoteliers believe they will be able to fill their rooms with families from Germany, the Netherlands and Austria.
Resorts across Europe has been blighted by a rise in binge-drinking and legal high consumption.
One hotelier told the paper: “We have nothing against these kids ad the British people as a whole.
Croatian party town becomes latest resort to clamp down on debauched British holidaymakers with tough fines for vomiting, sleeping or parading topless in the streets
The Croatian party island of Hvar has launched a clampdown on boozy tourists by threatening them with huge fines for their antics.
Signs reading ‘Save Your Money and Enjoy Hvar’ have been up in the town centre, detailing offences and the corresponding fines.
The highest penalty, which stands at 700 euro ($797), is for public drinking.
Tourists walking around in swimsuits on the town’s streets will pay 600 euro and those not wearing t-shirts 500.
Newly-elected mayor Rikardo Novak had earlier pledged he would ‘make decent’ young tourists visiting the biggest town on one of the most popular southern Croatian islands.
‘They are vomiting in town, urinating on every corner, walking without T-shirts … crawling around, unconscious,’ Novak told local media in June.
‘Young tourists are welcome, but they will have to learn how to behave here.’
His plans were sparked also by articles in British tabloids which described the Croatian island destination as a ‘place of Sodom and Gomorrah.’
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