A multi-pronged attack on fake sickness claims among UK holidaymakers appears to be curing the bug, reveals World Travel Market London research released today (Monday 6 November) at the event.
The number of holidaymakers who have been approached by a claims firm either during or after their holiday, is lower than expected, reveals to the World Travel Market London 2017 Industry Report.
Meanwhile, the vast majority of industry executives say fake sickness claims have not impacted their business, according to the report.
In 2016, Spanish hoteliers said fake sickness claims from British guests were costing them around €60 million per annum and in the past year, the industry and the Government has been working hard to stop unscrupulous claims firms targeting travellers.
Their approach has included targeting claims companies touting for business in resort; closing legal loopholes and hiring undercover agents to help sift out false claims – and it seems to be working.
The World Travel Market London 2017 Industry Report reveals over nine in 10 Brits have never been contacted by a fake-sickness claims company, although 6% have said they have been approached by a claims company while on holiday and 7% have been targeted since returning.
The vast majority of industry executives (75%) who took part in the research for the report say fake sickness claims have not impacted their business. However, 22% said the problem had some impact, while 3% said fake sickness claims had a significant impact over the past year.
The holiday bug scams have been more prevalent in Spain than anywhere else and last year the UK Foreign Office warned holidaymakers about rising numbers of ‘claims touts’ in popular Spanish resorts. The warning was then extended to travellers to Portugal and there have been reports of such activity in parts of Greece.
Earlier this year, ABTA launched a #StopSicknessScams campaign and, in summer 2017, a judge recommended there should be a restriction on the amount of legal fees that can be charged by lawyers representing claims companies.
Jet2holidays hired undercover detectives in resorts to sniff out bogus-claim touts. In one case, it released copies of the claimants’ bar bill to the media, which showed they carried on drinking heavily on the days they were ‘sick’.
A series of high-profile Crown Court cases brought by Thomas Cook and other operators in summer 2017 included a Liverpool family who falsely claimed £52,000 and another couple who were described by a judge as ‘fundamentally dishonest’ and ordered to pay nearly £4,000 in costs.
In another incident, the five-star Caldera Palace Hotel in Crete counter-sued a British couple for £170,000 for damage to its reputation after falsely claiming illness.
WTM London’s Paul Nelson, said: “Fake sickness claims by unscrupulous holidaymakers, encouraged by claims firms, give Brits a bad name and make things worse for those who genuinely fall ill abroad.
“Some Spanish hoteliers have threatened to close their doors to British customers, while there are also warnings holiday prices could go up because of fake claims.
“Our research shows 6% of Brits have been contacted by a claims firm while on holiday and 7% since returning; while 25% of industry executives say fake sickness claims have impacted their business over the past year, so we know this practice is still prevalent.
“However, the good news is that nine out of 10 holidaymakers haven’t been contacted by claims firms, while 75% of industry executives say fake sickness scams have not impacted their business. This shows that the fake sickness phenomenon is no longer an epidemic.
“By tackling it together, the travel industry and the Government are winning the fight against fake sickness scams.”
About World Travel Market
World Travel Market (WTM) portfolio comprises five leading B2B events across four continents generating more than $7bn of industry deals. The five events are;
WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry. Around 51,500 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international media visit ExCeL – London every November generating around £2.8 billion of travel industry contracts. http://london.wtm.com/. Next event: 6-8 Nov 2017 – London.
International Golf Travel Market (IGTM) now in its 20th edition, is the meeting place for the global B2B golf travel community. More than 600 golf tourism suppliers join 350 pre-qualified buyers and 100 international press for four days of unmissable pre-scheduled appointments, exclusive networking opportunities and invaluable industry and trend updates. Taking place in a different destination every year, IGTM brings together 1,400 golf tourism professionals from over 65 countries. http://igtm.wtm.com/. Next event: 11-14 Dec 2017 – Cannes.
World Travel Market Latin America now in its fifth edition attracts about 9,000 unique senior executives. The event generates US$ 370 million of new business. Taking place in Sao Paulo Brazil, this show attracts a global audience to meet and shape the direction of the travel industry. More than 7,000 unique visitors attend the event to network, negotiate and discover the latest industry news. http://latinamerica.wtm.com/. Next event: 3-5 April 2018 – Sao Paulo.
World Travel Market Africa launched in 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. Nearly 5,000 travel industry professionals attend Africa’s leading inbound and outbound travel and tourism market. WTM Africa delivers a proven mix of hosted buyers, media, pre-scheduled appointments, on-site networking, evening functions and invited travel trade visitors. http://africa.wtm.com/. Next event: 18-20 April 2018 – Cape Town.
About Arabian Travel Market (ATM) is the leading, international travel and tourism event in the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. ATM 2017 attracted almost 40,000 industry professionals, agreeing deals worth US$2.5bn over the four days. The 24th edition of ATM showcased over 2,500 exhibiting companies across 12 halls at Dubai World Trade Centre, making it the largest ATM in its 24-year history. www.arabiantravelmarketwtm.com Next event 22-25 April 2018 – Dubai.
About Reed Exhibitions
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About Reed Travel Exhibitions
Reed Travel Exhibitions is the world’s leading travel and tourism event’s organiser with a growing portfolio of more than 22 international travel and tourism trade events in Europe, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Our events are market leaders in their sectors, whether it is global and regional leisure travel trade events, or specialist events for meetings, incentives, conference, events (MICE) industry, business travel, luxury travel, travel technology as well as golf, spa and ski travel. We have over 35 years’ experience in organising