Lawyers Represent Thousands Taken Ill On All-Inclusive Breaks
Specialist travel lawyers from law firm Irwin Mitchell are urging tour operators to focus on safety as moves are made to increase the number of all-inclusive holidays on sale to British holidaymakers.
Research from Mintel has shown that the all-inclusive market grew by 32% in the five years up to 2010. Tour operator First Choice has confirmed that from 2012, all of its packages will be sold on an all-inclusive basis.
Lawyers from the firm currently represent more than 4,400 holidaymakers who have suffered serious gastric illness while on all-inclusive holidays. More than half of the complaints that Irwin Mitchell received about all-inclusive resorts were from people taken ill on First Choice holidays.
All-inclusive holidays have become popular in Spain, Turkey, Egypt and the Dominican Republic, all of which feature in Irwin Mitchell’s five worst holiday destinations. The firm are also being contacted by an increasing number of holidaymakers taken ill on all-inclusive cruises.
Irwin Mitchell has been contacted by more than 1,200 holidaymakers who were taken ill at just one First Choice all-inclusive resort, the Holiday Village Turkey in Sarigerme.
Common complaints heard by lawyers at the firm include buffets where food is undercooked, served at more than one sitting or served at the wrong temperature.
Clive Garner, head of the travel law team and partner at Irwin Mitchell said: “We have seen first-hand that some of the hotels used by First Choice for all inclusive holidays have had a poor track record at when it comes to food hygiene standards.
“First Choice may feel they are offering major benefits to holidaymakers by letting them 'leave their wallets at home', but it is vital that they and the staff and management of the hotels that they use work hard to ensure the same people don't come home with a serious illness.
"What we have seen in the past is a focus on quantity rather than quality when it comes to food at some all inclusive resorts. But when things go wrong there can be dreadful and sometimes life changing consequences. Many of our clients go on to suffer long term and all too often permanent illness following food poisoning on all inclusive holidays abroad," Garner continued.
"This isn't just a problem that we see with First Choice, other tour operators also often say that they have strict hygiene policies in place to protect guests, but regrettably we regularly see outbreaks of illness at hotels around the World due to failures to follow hygiene guidelines that most of us would consider as basic common sense.
"It is the tour operator's responsibility to make sure hygiene standards are maintained. If hotels aren't up to scratch then they should take action or stop sending guests there."
Travel lawyers from Irwin Mitchell recently secured a landmark victory against TUI UK Ltd (the owner of First Choice and Thomson) that set a legal precedent meaning holiday companies must warn actual and potential guests about possible health risks at their hotels.