Lethal defects in hotel pools

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The Independent Online
Two-thirds of hotel swimming pools in popular Mediterranean resorts have major defects that could result in someone drowning or being seriously injured, the Consumers' Association claimed yesterday.

An inspection by Holiday Which? magazine found that 41 out of 60 pools were dangerous. The latest edition of the magazine calls them potential death-traps.

The faults, identified in a survey of hotel pools in Majorca and the Algarve, included inadequate or inaccurate depth markings, sudden depth changes, an absence of "no diving" notices and children's pools sited too near deep water.

All the pools were featured in holiday brochures on sale in the United Kingdom last year and all but three are included in 1995 brochures. With the holiday booking season now in full swing, the magazine calls for swift action by tour operators "as a matter of life and death".

Patricia Yates, editor of Holiday Which?, said that at least 44 holidaymakers returned from abroad between 1988 and 1993 "unlikely ever to walk again as a result of diving accidents".

She added: "For some holidaymakers, diving into a hotel swimming pool will be their last memory of a healthy and active life."

The magazine says swimming-pool safety has not improved since it first reported on the hazards six years ago. Of 20 hotels revisited, 19 still had problems, despite warnings after reports in 1989 and 1992. Local government guidelines have often gone unheeded.

The Confederation of Tour Operators said it was surprised at the findings, but it was taking them seriously and had requested a meeting with the inspectors. The Consumers' Association says people who have booked a holiday at one of the hotels with a poolon its danger list should demand assurances from their tour operator that problems will be rectified before their holiday. If not, they have a right to demand a suitable safe alternative or, in certain circumstances - if they have small children, for example - to cancel and get their money back.