High-profile incidents, such as the salmonella outbreak in Grand Hotel Gardone in Lake Garda last month, have made holidaymakers more aware of the consequences of food-related illnesses and the importance of staying healthy while abroad.

As a result, compensation claims from affected travellers are costing the travel industry millions of pounds, so it is crucial for operators to look more closely at every aspect of health and safety and what they can do to minimise the risk of legal complaints and loss of revenue.

It is a common misconception that established tourist resorts have implemented adequate hygiene standards. It is not always the case and agents working across all countries need to ensure their health and safety monitoring is up to scratch.

Initiatives have been developed based on self-certification and formal audit cycles of 12 to 36 months. But relying on such practices can be dangerous given that the majority of claims are food and hygiene-related. Auditing once a year, or less frequently, is inadequate.

A survey from Halifax Travel Insurance revealed that British holidaymakers spend on average only seven hours away from their hotel during their holiday. One way agents can protect customers is to ask hoteliers for independent evidence of their commitment to an ongoing health and safety programme.

A comprehensive strategy is the only way to protect guests from illness and reduce compensation claims. High standards cannot be achieved without a considerable amount of effort and dedication from all parties.

This means a closer working partnership between hotels, operators and agents is required to ensure consistent standards are regularly monitored and maintained to protect customers and their reputations.