Hoteliers start to talk tough on British guests' false illness claims

Holidaymakers checking into a hotel.
Holidaymakers checking into a hotel. / SUR
  • Local tourist chiefs fear that the wave of legal cases that has so far cost Spain 60 million euros could hit the Costa del Sol next

Hoteliers are starting to get tough on the wave of British tourists suing over reported holiday illnesses. The organised claims from UK law firms have been affecting many areas of Spain and souring relations between the country and its most important source of visitors.

Even though the Costa del Sol has hardly been affected so far, hoteliers’ representatives estimate that in the worst-hit areas, such as the Balearics, the Canaries and the Costa Blanca, the claims have cost them 60 million euros over the past few seasons. They say some 90 per cent of sickness accusations are false.

As the legal claims are made in UK courts against the holidaymakers’ tour operators, who under European law are legally responsible, and not directly to the hotels, hotel owners are not able to defend themselves properly and have no choice but to pay up under their contractual terms with the tour operators.

However secretary-general of CEHAT, Ramón Estalella, who represents tourist accommodation, has said that “the Spanish hotel industry is getting ready to defend its interests . We will pursue all the defrauders within the Spanish legal system”.

The claims arise when holidaymakers are encouraged by lawyers’ marketing campaigns to sue for alleged sickness. All-inclusive hotels are normally targeted, as guests only eat in one hotel on their stay. The Costa del Sol isn’t as affected as it offers less of this type of holiday.

Luis Callejón Suñé, president of Aehcos, the Costa del Sol hoteliers association, has said, “ If they think that this destination is their next target, we’re going to face it head on with legal action.” The Junta de Andalucía has also promised to defend hoteliers interests.