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Spain's hotels fight back against $115 million food poisoning claims from Brits

Staff Writer |
Spanish hotels are turning to private detectives and the courts to repel a surge in fake food poisoning claims by British holidaymakers that has already cost them millions of euros.

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The number of food sickness claims soared to more than 10,000 during the 2016-17 tourist season, from around just 600 in 2015-16, said the head of Spain's hotel confederation CEHAT, Ramon Estalella.

It estimates that more than 90 percent of the claims - usually made through small-claims management companies that promise payouts of several thousand pounds - are bogus.

For years Britons have been the biggest group of tourists to Spain by nationality. Estalella said they are responsible for virtually all of the fake illness claims.

The problem has arisen because British consumer law does not require claimants to produce any medical evidence of illness, and claims can be filed up to three years after a stay at a hotel, he said.

"If the law was the same in Germany, Spain or France, I am certain that people from there would do the same," Estalella told AFP.

Hotels complain that British claims management companies openly tout for business in Spanish resorts, promising not to charge any fees if no eventual damages are paid out.

An ambulance emblazoned with the words "Claims Clinic" was last year pictured driving around Tenerife on Spain's Canary Islands, where more than one in three tourists is British.

The total value of the fake claims made during the 2016/17 season amounted to more than €100 million ($115 million), Estalella said.


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