When booking a package holiday in the UK with a reputable tour operator, holidaymakers are entitled to expect that the accommodation provided will meet certain minimum safety standards. It should not matter whether the holiday is a £99 late deal booking or a £10,000 luxury honeymoon booking. The accommodation should be safe.
Most, if not all, major tour operators advise within their literature that they audit hotels to ensure that they meet with their own internal minimum standards. Furthermore, most major tour operators proudly boast within their brochures and on their websites that they are members of the Federation of Tour Operators which provides tour operators with certain recommended standards for their hotels.
Consumers would therefore be forgiven for thinking that they will be safe when travelling abroad, particularly whilst staying within the confines of their hotel.
However, when something goes wrong, tour operators will regularly claim that they have no obligation whatsoever to supply accommodation that meets their own internal minimum standards or those standards that are recommended by the FTO as these are recommended standards that have no legal weight attached to them. Instead, the tour operator will claim that their only obligation is to ensure that the hotel meets the standards that are required in the country where the hotel is located.
This means that when a holidaymaker is injured or suffers from illness whilst abroad on a package holiday, the tour operator will generally not entertain the claim unless it can be proved that there was a breach of the local safety standard.
Of course health and safety standards will vary greatly from country to country and tour operators will rarely, if ever, divulge what the local safety standards are in a particular destination, placing the onus on the injured or ill holidaymakers to do this. This can make the pursuit of recompense by a holidaymaker that is not legally represented extremely difficult.
Simpson Millar LLP have a wealth of experience when it comes to pursuing overseas accident and illness claims and will generally be able to obtain the evidence required to establish whether a breach of local safety standards has occurred.
The standards found locally in the various destinations offered by UK based tour operators vary a great deal. For example, the standards in Spain or France are unlikely to resemble those found in India, Egypt or The Dominican Republic. However, the below observations are typical of the complaints that are reported to us on a regular basis, often causing illness or injury, and are unlikely to be acceptable in any developed country: