Call for action on 'unsafe' holidays

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The Independent Online

Tour operators were accused yesterday of sending holidaymakers to hotels that were unsanitary and unsafe as two consumer groups launched a campaign for a government-appointed regulator to police the travel industry.

Tour operators were accused yesterday of sending holidaymakers to hotels that were unsanitary and unsafe as two consumer groups launched a campaign for a government-appointed regulator to police the travel industry.

Holiday TravelWatch and Consumer Safety International (CSI) proposed a levy on holiday packages of about £1 per person, to pay for the regulator and telephone helpline. Tour operators and travel agents said they would oppose a levy and warned that a British regulator would have no power abroad.

Brenda Wall, of Holiday TravelWatch, launched the campaign at the House of Commons, saying: "There is clear evidence that many of the hotels used by British tour operators are unsafe, unsanitary and unhygienic."

As an example she pointed to the Club Aguamar hotel complex in Majorca where swimming pools were closed this summer after scores of British holidaymakers contracted the cryptosporidium bug. Her organisation received 1,000 complaints. One of the complainants, Michaela Walsh, 29, from Bolton, Greater Manchester, said she had been ill since staying at the complexin July. Her tour operator, JMC, "didn't want to know", she said.

Angela Fiddler, 31, from Kendal, Cumbria, said she and her family had stayed at a hotel in Tenerife on a Virgin Holidays trip when fire broke out. No alarms went off and the family was not rescued until four hours after it started, she said. They were offered compensation of £9 per person.

Molly Maher, the president of Consumer Safety International, described how her son was killed by gas poisoning in a flat in Tenerife in 1985. Her daughter was severely injured in the incident and is in a wheelchair. Ms Maher said she had recent evidence that the complex remained a disgrace.

In a statement, the Federation of Tour Operators said:"What is urgently needed is action on a European Safety Directive - not helplines and levies which in themselves do not make the world a safer place."

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