A Tui UK customer has been ordered to pay out £25,000 after a court ruled she had lied about being ill while on a Thomson holiday.
Tui hopes the ruling will deter UK guests from making false or exaggerated claims this summer.
It said the legal case was the first in the UK in which a holiday sickness claimant had been deemed “fundamentally dishonest” by a judge.
Amy Hughes, 28, of Holyhead in North Wales, spent 11 days on a Thomson holiday at the five-star Iberotel Palace hotel in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, with two friends in July 2011.
Two years after returning home, in July 2013, she made a claim against the operator, through a North Wales law firm, alleging she had been ill during the trip and had not eaten anywhere other than the hotel.
The case was due to be heard in court last October, but Mrs Hughes dropped her claim at the 11th hour without any explanation.
Thomson has confirmed that after it investigated the claims, it found that Mrs Hughes had eaten only a small number of breakfasts at the hotel and that a friend of hers had confirmed she had eaten Chinese food in the resort.
Mrs Hughes denied this, but Thomson decided it had enough evidence to pursue her through the courts for costs it had incurred building a defence.
On July 5, a recorder at Wrexham County Court ordered that Mrs Hughes had been ‘fundamentally dishonest’ and must pay the operator £25,000 by 4pm on October 6.
Tui’s managing director for the UK and Ireland, Nick Longman, said: “We recognise that on occasion a very small number of our customers will unfortunately experience being unwell on holiday and we do all that we can to prevent this and support them when it happens.
“This is the first case of its kind for the holiday industry where fundamental dishonesty has been proven with a sickness claim and we expect many more similar findings to follow. This sends a clear message to anyone considering making a fraudulent or exaggerated claim and it’s really important that everyone fully understands that there are consequences of doing so.”
Julie Lavelle and her partner Michael McIntyre, both of Liverpool, sought £10,000 in damages but were ordered to pay £3,744 in costs after their claim was dismissed on July 10.
Thomson has reported a 1,400% rise in holiday sickness claims, which it puts down to an unprecedented rise in false assertions. Abta has said the industry has seen an average increase in claims of 700% in the last two years.
Since Travel Weekly launched out Fight Fake Claims campaign, the government has launched a ‘crackdown’ on the issue – including limiting the amount legal companies can charge in costs on claims made abroad of up to £25,000.
One law firm has dropped more than 3,000 claims against the big three operators in recent months.