MALLORCA hoteliers are demanding stiff punishment for holidaymakers, lawyers or touts involved in fake sickness insurance claims.
They have insisted upon strong ‘penal sentences’ after confirming they are ‘suffering a criminal plot’, costing the industry millions each year.
The president of the hotel association (FEHM) Inmaculada De Benito told the Olive Press the problem has cost the industry ‘at least’ €50 million in the past 18 months.
It comes after she called a high level meeting with the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) and other tourist organisations in Madrid, on Monday.
“We told ABTA that the Spanish hotel industry isn’t willing to accept any more false claims,” she explained.
“We are going to work towards penal sentences for companies and people who participate in this fraud in Spain.
“If the situation is not resolved quickly, we will have to take more forceful measures.”
She urged ABTA to give FEHM ‘maximum support’ by working closely with tour operators to identify illegal claims.
She added: “We want concrete solutions to minimize claims based on a criminal plot that takes advantage of the cover British law gives customers.
“It’s clear hoteliers can’t continue suffering the cost of these false claims.”
She insisted laws in the UK needed to be changed regarding tourists’ gastric complaints.
FEHM represents some 900 businesses in Mallorca, with hotels offering all-inclusive holidays hardest hit by the scammers.
ABTA recently wrote to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson calling for a cap on legal fees to make such claims are less attractive to claims companies.
A spokesperson for ABTA told the Olive Press that the scams were doing ‘massive damage’ to British holidaymakers’ reputation.
One hotel reported an increase of around 1,000% in such claims in the last three years.
“One hotelier got sued by a family who then came back to stay the next year, which he wasn’t too impressed about,” said Sean Tipton.
“This is not the way to make friends. It is a form of fraud and you could go to jail.”
He added that most of the legal claims firms seem to be based out of the North West of England.
The Olive Press believes the majority are based in Manchester and Liverpool.