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The Independent Travel
Claims for food poisoning

I was recently on holiday in the Caribbean on an all-inclusive holiday where all food and drinks were provided as part of the total price. Unfortunately, there was an outbreak of food poisoning and approximately 40 people fell ill, including myself and my wife. We were quite badly ill for some four days and the holiday was completely ruined. Do we have any claims against the holiday company?

Neil O'Donnell

Stockport

Ian Skuse replies: Regulation 15 of the Package Travel Regulations of 1992 makes your tour operator responsible for compensating you for claims for illness and injury even if this is caused by the negligence of their overseas supplier - in this case the hotel.

This is subject to your showing that the hotel was negligent and that the illness was caused by the food that the hotel provided.

This is much easier to prove when the hotel provides all the meals, since otherwise they could claim that you were infected by a meal or drinks that was consumed elsewhere. Similarly, it is harder bringing a claim for an isolated case of illness, but far easier when many guests are affected, as in your case.

When there is a significant case of illness it is usual for most countries to investigate the likely cause of the outbreak and to carry out an inspection of the hotel's kitchen and their regime for the hygienic preparation of food. This will be helpful in establishing your case.

Many hotels and their English tour operators take this issue very seriously indeed and there is currently an initiative to ensure that the hotels featured in these companies' holidays comply with internationally accepted standards of food hygiene. Similar monitoring procedures are proposed to prevent legionnaires' disease.

Your claim should be addressed to the English tour operator who provided you with your holiday and the regulations above mean that you do not have to pursue the hotel in the Caribbean.

Ian Skuse is the senior litigation partner with Piper, Smith & Basham, which has specialised in the travel industry for more than 20 years (tel: 0171 828 8685).

Dubrovnik is almost back to its glittering best, even if the food is as mediocre as ever

We used to love Dubrovnik and would like to return, but the tour operators seem to offer resorts only in Istria. What is the situation in Dubrovnik? Has it been restored, are there hotels open and do any British firms offer holidays there?

Phoebe Wilson

Goole, Humberside

Jill Crawshaw replies: British firms are returning to the Dalmatian Riviera now that Dubrovnik airport is open again. Smaller specialist firms such as Panorama Holidays (01273 206531), for example, are offering a week's B&B in Dubrovnik's Hotel Excelsior from pounds 259 in May, pounds 399 in August, with two-week prices ranging from pounds 359 to pounds 609. I revisited this hotel awhile ago. It is just outside the walls, with great views. It was untouched by the 1991-92 siege when 2,000 shells fell on the city. Business is now as before - and that includes the food - it's still mediocre

Not all the hotels in the Lapad peninsula, two miles from the old city, have re-opened; one that is, the Hotel Splendid, costs from pounds 269-pounds 399 for a week's half board, pounds 379-pounds 575 for two weeks. The bus service between Lapad and the old city runs every 15 minutes. Phoenix Tours (01323 410627) and Balkan Holidays (0171 543 5566) also offer Dubrovnik packages. I was astonished by the determination to restore the city. I noticed one immediate difference: the pristine pink of the newly-tiled roofs. I was unable to detect shrapnel holes in the Stradun, and the renovated parts of the Lion Fountain had to be pointed out to me. Some of the mansions were still gutted, though their facades are mainly intact. It is reckoned the restorations - costing pounds 7.5m - are 80 per cent complete. Incidentally, the restoration of Dubrovnik was awarded the British Guild of Travel Writers' Silver Otter Award this week.

Jill Crawshaw is a travel expert, writer and broadcaster

It's a glaring error to wear cheap sunglasses that fail to filter out those harmful rays

I always wear cheap sunglasses on holiday and I never have any problems. A friend tells me, however, that cheap sunglasses can cause problems for the eyes. Is this true and, if so, what kind of problems? What sort of sunglasses should I be looking for?

Sarah Bootle

Rochdale

Dr Larry Goodyer replies: A potential problem with cheaper sunglasses may be that they do not adequately filter out harmful Ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which could cause damage to the eye. Because such sunglasses reduce the amount of light to the eyes, the natural reflex mechanisms which cut down light to the cornea and retina will be reduced, leading to a greater than normal exposure to these harmful UV rays.

The short-term problem of over-exposure to UV radiation may be some damage to the cornea. This may be more severe at high altitudes or where light is reflected off water or snow; in the latter case this can result in temporary "snow blindness". Mountaineers and skiers are advised to wear goggles. Fair people may be in more danger of long-term damage. There is a possibility of damaging the skin around the eyes as well as the retina. Such people should wear good-quality sun glasses. It is unnecessary to buy an expensive pair. A reasonably-priced pair from a reliable source that is guaranteed to filter UV radiation is all that is required.

Dr Larry Goodyer is superintendent of the Nomad Pharmacy (3-4 Turnpike Lane, London N8, Tel: 0181 889 7014) which specialises in travellers' medical needs.

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