Tourists on the beach. | Miquel A. Cañellas


The Senate’s Energy and Tourism Commission yesterday approved a motion tabled by the Partido Popular in the Balearics to continue the fight against bogus holiday claims in order to stop British holidaymakers making false compensation claims against Spanish hotels.
The PP senator, Miguel Ramis, told the commission in Madrid that the problem “is a matter of State” and should not be subjected to a political debate.
Ramis stressed that hundreds of false claims have been uncovered along with scores of legal firms which specialise in bogus compensation battles.
He also pointed out that the problem is not only endemic in the Balearics but across the country and is costing both Spanish hoteliers and British tour operators millions of euros every year.
Ramis explained that the Guardia Civil has been investigating this illegal practice since 2014 and that up until this summer, over 800 Britons have been identified as false claimants and some 800 million euros has been paid out by the hoteliers. He added that the other problem is that British tour operators if they can, avoid reimbursing the hoteliers who have to cover the claims out of their own pockets.
“It’s giving the Spanish tourist industry and all sectors involved with the industry a dreadful name. We’ve got to keep a close eye on all changes in European and British law so that we can step up our efforts,” Ramis added.
In the UK, the topic is still a burning issue.
Only this week, ABTA, the Association of British Travel Agents, called on the government again to change the law so holiday sickness claims come under the same legal costs regime as other personal injury claims like whiplash.
The UK Ministry of Justice has issued a call for evidence on the issue of false and exaggerated sickness claims after the issue gained high profile during the summer.
ABTA says members have seen an average of 500% increase in claims since 2013 and up to 700% for some operators who have been targeted by claims management firms.
ABTA has been campaigning for a change in the law to make it less lucrative for claims ‘farmers’ to tour for business.
And travel firms have been actively pursuing claims they believe to be false through the courts resulting in a number of successful cases where claimants have been ordered to pay costs and, in one instance, even jailed.