Bogus illness claims are costing British tour operators up to £240m a year and driving up the cost of holidays for everyone, according to the Association of British Travel Agents.
Many of the claims never go to court – and are settled – because of the fear of uncontrolled legal costs abroad, something the government has announced plans to crack down on.
“What we have is a small number of unscrupulous lawyers who are taking advantage of the lack of any limit on costs to pursue spurious claims,” said Justice Minister Dominic Raab.
“By moving to fixed costs, we can end some of that uncertainty and cut out the spurious claims, so they are not pushing up the prices for regular holidaymakers.”
There were 5,000 claims in 2013, but that figure rocketed to 35,000 last year, despite the fact that the number of illnesses reported in holiday resorts has actually declined.
Holidaymaker Tracey Krieger from north London enjoyed a wonderful fortnight in Mexico with her husband and was stunned to receive a cold call on her mobile several months after she returned home.
“They asked if I had been ill while on holiday and when I said I hadn’t, they kept asking and pushing,” she told Sky News.
“I find it abhorrent that anyone would make a bogus claim for illness when they have had a perfect holiday abroad. It’s a disgrace that this is going on and that so many people are doing it.
“It’s pushing up the cost of holidays for every family and it’s so wrong.”
Records show that the average value of a gastric illness claim is around £2,100 while the cost of defending the same claim is £3,800.