On Tuesday evening, the IB3 programme Dues Voltes concentrated on the issue of false compensation claims for sickness by UK holidaymakers. Entitled "toxic tourists", the question was asked whether UK tourists should be barred from Majorca. The Majorca Hoteliers Federation has of course suggested that it might be prepared to take such a drastic step, though such a ban would apply to all-inclusive hotels - certain ones in particular - which are the main target for the so-called claims' farmers.
The notion of a ban was rejected by Jet2, who have taken the lead among tour operators in seeking to stop the scams by hiring private detectives. The hoteliers noted that they also are considering using private detectives. The federation has been clear in stating that it will press charges against all parties to a false claim, which would include holidaymakers themselves.
The hoteliers federation has been concerned that the UK general election could delay any legislative reform to tackle the issue. This reform, if it is carried through, would still not be in force until next year. Lloyd Milen, the British Consul in Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, did not allay the fear that the election could cause a delay.
The programme presented a letter that is typical of ones sent to tour operators in pressing claims on behalf of clients. This referred, among other things, to food being left out and not being replaced and to the presence of birds and insects in the vicinity of food. These are allegations that fit a standard pattern in these letters; there is no proof of them and nor is any required. That a client states them to be fact will suffice, thus making the compensation claim that much easier.
It was confirmed by a chemist in Puerto Alcudia that she has encountered many tourists who have wanted remedies for food poisoning or diarrhoea. A receipt from a chemist is all that is needed as evidence to support a claim. Certain bits of advice given to holidaymakers by claims farmers were also highlighted. These include removing any happy holiday photos from Facebook and other social media which might jeopardise a claim.
The scale of the "epidemic" was revealed in a graphic which showed that the number of claims per 10,000 UK holidaymakers in Majorca went up from three in 2015 to almost 14 last year, which represents a total of more than 4,000. It was also stated that people acting on behalf of the claims farmers in resorts are on commissions of one hundred euros per successful claim. It is not unknown for there to be the equivalent of between 20 and 30 claims in a week.
The chemists in Puerto Alcudia that featured in the programme is, we can report, itself being targeted by claims farmers representatives. Two British women were seen near to it on Tuesday. They were approaching holidaymakers about making claims. This particular chemists is not next to either of the two main all-inclusive complexes in Alcudia (Bellevue and Club Mac), which suggests that the in-resort claims-farming operation is widening. These representatives are to also be seen at these large all-inclusives. The practice is the same in Magalluf, Palmanova and other resorts.
Catching these representatives in the act is what the hoteliers and tour operators need to do. From a police point of view, there is the matter of conspiracy to commit a crime: a false claim is illegal under Spanish law as it is under UK law. There is a further possible offence, which would be one according to bylaws and relates to a commercial activity being conducted on the public way without a licence. It was this which ultimately put an end to the time-share scratch-card scheme in Alcudia. The fines had become that great that the operation closed down.
It is now, though, most evident that there is high awareness of what is going on. Residents are as angered about the practice as the hoteliers, tour operators and the overwhelming majority of holidaymakers are. These honest tourists are outraged at the prospect of paying more for their holidays because of rising costs brought about by the claims.
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