Fake claims of food poisoning up by 700 percent at Spanish hotels

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The Spanish hotel owners’ association (CEHAT) has announced it was adopting a series of measures in an attempt to end false claims of food poisoning which are costing the industry millions of euros a year, reported Spanish media.

CEHAT General Secretary Ramon Estalella explained that in 2016 false claims of food poisoning rose by 700 percent and cost hotels over 60 million euros in compensation payouts.

Estelella said the situation had become “worrying”, and that Spain’s hotels “cannot wait for long-term measures proposed by tour operators.”

The majority of false claims come from British tourists, who wait until they have returned to the UK before filing their complaints. CEHAT estimates that around 90 percent of these claims are false.

Many of these claims are encouraged by companies of solicitors who work on a “no-win, no fee basis”, meaning many say they have been poisoned knowing they have nothing to lose, but stand to win enough money to more than cover their holiday costs if their claim is successful.

It has even been reported that some solicitors have operated from vehicles parked outside of Spanish hotels in popular tourist destinations, actively looking for possible clients.

Among the measures CEHAT aims to use are closely monitoring when and what guests are eating, with the aim of proving they were in the hotel dining room when they were saying they had been ill, or showing that other guests who ate food claimed to be contaminated suffered no ill effects.

There will also be a campaign launched in many hotels advising of the risks of launching false insurance claims, which, in Spain, is a criminal offense carrying a jail term of between six months to three years as well as a heavy fine.

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