Travel Weekly is today launching a campaign to combat the scourge of fake holiday illness claims with the backing of the big three operators and Abta.

Fight Fake Claims demands the new UK government changes the law to remove the commercial benefit for claims management firms to solicit hundreds of thousands of largely false claims.

We are urging readers to back our aims so government and regulators appreciate how critical an issue this has become for our industry.

In formulating our demands, Travel Weekly has worked closely with Abta, Tui, Thomas Cook and Jet2holidays, all of which have seen the number of claims spiral significantly in recent years.

Nick Longman, Tui UK and Ireland managing director, said: “We fully support raising awareness of what is a massive issue for the industry. That’s why we are backing Travel Weekly’s Fight Fake Claims campaign and would encourage other operators to show their support too.”

Steve Heapy, chief executive of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, said: “I’m very pleased Travel Weekly has joined the fight. This is a huge threat to our industry.”

Chris Mottershead, Thomas Cook UK managing director, said: “The more people who are aware, the louder our collective voice.”

Pressure by Abta and operators has prompted an investigation by the Claims Management Regulator into the practices of claims management firms.

The Foreign Office also issued advice warning holidaymakers that false claims could see them prosecuted in the UK or overseas.

Last week, Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer discussed the issue with Spanish hoteliers and officials amid concerns they will stop selling to UK clients.

The association said it will be demanding urgent action from the new government following this week’s general election, and plans a consumer-facing campaign.

Tanzer said: “We need to make sure that any change in leadership after the election does not delay action. When the new government is in place, we will be continuing to push this as a priority issue.”

As well as demanding government intervention, Fight Fake Claims will highlight ways the industry can challenge false claims.

Barrister Sarah Prager, of law firm 1 Chancery Court, warned at an Abta seminar in May that the industry could endure a “really difficult” period before the issue is addressed. She said: “You need to pick the claims to fight. You have to defend some and win them.”

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