(This blog was featured in European Cleaning and Hygiene Journal)
By now most of us will have already been on our annual summer holiday - something that us Brits look forward to with a passion. According to the ONS, British people made over 65 million foreign trips in 2015. But it's not cheap - according to new research by Asda Money, taking a family of four on a summer holiday now costs an average of €1380. The older the children, the more you can expect to spend, with the cost rising to €1587 if they are aged between 16 and 18. Costs can soar when you add activities, shopping and eating out.
It's well known that the school holidays are one of the most expensive times to go away and the research suggests it costs around €228 extra per trip to go during these months. It asked 2,006 adults how much they spend going away and of those asked, 56 per cent said they worry about how much taking their children away will cost.
The mounting costs and the fact that many people regard their annual two weeks in the sun as their only real time to relax means that the expectations on holiday resorts to deliver a clean, fresh environment is higher than ever.
But these reasonable requests and expectations are resulting in a surge of bogus hygiene claims from individuals wanting to make a quick buck. In fact this summer Brits faced a Spanish holiday ban on all-inclusive hotel deals after reports of fake food poisoning claims. Fake gastroenteritis claims are said to have soared by 700 per cent in the past year. Hotel owners say they have been ‘fleeced' out of €48 million in the past 18 months, and some claims are being put in as long as two years after the holiday took place.
UK travel regulator Abta has reported a 500 per cent rise in claims, prompting its ‘Stop Sickness Scams' and Travel Weekly's ‘Fight Fake Claims' campaign. They dub the claims as the ‘new PPI', saying: "Abta is aware of aggressive marketing by claims management companies, including targeting of holidaymakers in local resorts, which is likely to be contributing to the rise in numbers."
After putting pressure on the Government to act, ministers have stepped in to try to reduce cash incentives in bringing false claims against package holiday tour operators. In fact, a claims management company encouraging people to make fake or exaggerated holiday sickness claims was one of the first to have its licence cancelled this August.
Jet2holidays ceo Steve Heapy commented: "The sharp rise in the number of sickness claims is costing hoteliers and travel companies dearly, and it's frustrating when so many are made a year or more after the holiday has ended. My message is simple. No one cares more about you on holiday than us. If you have a problem on holiday, we are there for you and we take genuine claims very seriously."
He added: "But the food bug fraudsters are fooling customers into thinking they can make a claim even when they weren't ill without any consequences, which is not true. I'm calling on the Government to crack down on the food bug fraudsters."
Last month the tour operator released undercover footage filmed by private investigators which saw a rogue tout in Benidorm coaching tourists last year into making bogus compensation requests for a potential profit of €3400.
These types of claims can have a devastating effect on hotels and holiday resorts, and puts the spotlight on food hygiene and overall cleanliness. Of course, there is nothing much holiday resorts can do to stop false claims. But what they can do is take steps to ensure their hygiene standards are top notch, which could lessen the chance of real ones.
Clean kitchens and surfaces cannot eliminate the chance of food poisoning completely, as food can become contaminated at any stage during its production, processing or cooking. Food that hasn't been stored properly, or that has been in contact with someone with diarrhoea and/or vomiting, can cause cases of food poisoning among consumers. However they can eliminate the cross-contamination of food - for example, if you prepare raw chicken on a chopping board and do not wash the board, then go on to prepare salad on it, the harmful bacteria can spread from the board to the salad.
Making sure surfaces are wiped with the right chemicals, protecting surfaces that need to be touched with antimicrobial protection, ensuring soap pouches are sealed before use, promoting good handwashing practice and installing effective ‘under the surface' cleaning systems will help stop the spread of nasty illnesses like norovirus, c. difficile and the flu.
Unlike other hygiene products such as air fresheners and soap dispensers, where you can physically see them freshening the air or feel them cleaning your hands, systems like cleaning and dosing systems work in the background, and can help stop the build-up of uric salt, which will in turn help prevent pipe blockages and build ups.
Because we can't necessarily see a dirty surface, we sometimes place more importance on what we can physically see or smell. However it is impossible to get rid of malodours completely if the washroom is unclean, so whilst it might seem like a good idea to try to hide them with a nice air freshener, it is much better to focus on cleaning the fixtures and removing malodours from the air with malodour eliminating or ozone producing systems, and then providing a nice fragrance than trying to cut corners.