Abta has called on the government to change the law so holiday sickness claims come under the same legal costs regime as other personal injury claims like whiplash.

The UK Ministry of Justice has issued a call for evidence on the issue of false and exaggerated sickness claims after the issue gained high profile during the summer.

Abta says members have seen an average of 500% increase in claims since 2013 and up to 700% for some operators who have been targeted by claims management firms.

Both Abta and Travel Weekly have been campaigning for a change in the law to make it less lucrative for claims ‘farmers’ to tour for business.

And travel firms have been actively pursuing claims they believe to be false through the courts resulting in a number of successful cases where claimants have been ordered to pay costs and, in one instance, even jailed.

In a statement having filed its submission to the government, the association said: “Abta has been working closely with its members to collate data on gastric illness claims and has submitted this to the Ministry of Justice to support its position.

“Abta believes the immediate priority for the government must be to close the loophole in the law which allows unscrupulous companies to profit unduly from false holiday sickness claims.

“Currently, there is no limit on the legal fees that lawyers can charge for overseas personal injury claims up to £25,000.

“Abta’s submission calls for overseas claims to be brought into line with UK personal injury claims – such as whiplash – where there is a cap on legal fees.

“By including holiday sickness claims in a ‘fixed costs regime’, the government would provide a level playing field between holiday sickness claims and other low-value personal injury claims brought through the courts.

“Importantly, this would continue to give legitimate claimants access to justice, but would make the overseas holiday market considerably less attractive to claims management companies by reducing the financial incentive to bring these bogus claims to court.”

The association added: “Abta welcomes the opportunity to submit evidence on this issue which has had a significant effect on members and the wider travel industry, and we look forward to hearing what the next steps will be in the Government’s crackdown on fraudulent claims.

More: Travel Weekly’s Fight Fake Claims campaign